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Agric seed council boss warns against fake seeds

In the past four years, Nigeria’s national seed production capacity has tremendously increased. Alongside this was a rise in the activities of unscrupulous seed merchants selling adulterated seed to unsuspecting farmers, a situation that has been leading to crop failure.

To reverse this undesirable trend, which could jeopardise the gains made within the period, and to ensure that only quality seeds of proven cultivars get to the Nigerian farmers in 2016 wet season, the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) embarked on a nationwide educational enlightenment in Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi states recently.

The campaigns were meant to educate the public on the activities of the unscrupulous seed merchant in Northwestern Nigeria and to discourage such inappropriate trade tactics. The exercise, which lasted for four days, was spearheaded by Director General, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in company of his senior officials, a team of plant breeders from the Institute for Agricultural Research & Training (IAR&T) Ibadan, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR/ABU), Zaria and National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi.

Through the training, the trainee agrodealers were educated and taught on criteria to consider before buying improved seeds from the seed companies. They were also taken through awareness creation on how to differentiate quality seeds from adulterated and fake seeds.

Places visited were Hadejia in Jigawa State, Dan Hassan in Kano State and Jega in Kebbi State at pre-control plots sites established to authenticate, assess, evaluate and monitor quality attributes of all notified and traded crop seed varieties produced by National Agricultural Research Institutions (NARIS) seed companies, and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) for marketin.

These plots help to take informed decision as to withdraw or maintain a particular variety from circulation. Any seed lot that failed to meet the minimum standards during evaluation is not be marketed as seed.

The DG of NASC, Dr Olusegun Ojo, said very stiff punitive measures await violators of the of the Nigerian Seed Act No. 72 of 1992, which is currently undergoing amendment by the National Assembly. Dr. Ojo described adulteration of seeds as an act of national sabotage. He noted that adulteration of seeds will not be tolerated, as agriculture is now becoming the economic base of Nigeria, and seed is the backbone of the sector.