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Seed, warehouse, fertiliser bills will boost agriculture —Stakeholders

Stakeholders in Agriculture sector has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Seed Bill from National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), before him into law so as to give direction to seed system in Nigeria and to improve yields of small holder farmers.

The stakeholders also called on the National Assembly to transmit the already passed Fertilizer bill to the President for assent, also expedite the hearing of the Warehouse bill which is still at the House of Representative.

Speaking with journalists at a dialogue which centers on strengthening enabling policy environment for Fertilizer system, Seed system and warehouse receipt system in Nigeria, the head of Think Tank operation for NESG, Feyisayo Ajayi said the meeting was to engage stakeholders to support the passage of the 3 bills.

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She said the bills were critical to the creation of agricultural ecosystem, achieve food security and impact in the lives of smallholder farmers who are critical to the nation’s economy.

“We are here today to engage stakeholders to buy in to the passage of the 3 bill is that NESG is working with AGRA and other stakeholders to enact, these bills are the Fertilizer Quality Control Bill, the Independent Warehouse Bill, as well as the Seed Council Bill.

“These 3 bills we believe are very important and critical to the creation of an agricultural ecosystem, so that Nigeria is not just only secured in terms of food but as well as impact the lives of our smallholder farmers.

“Millions of smallholder farmers in Nigeria today just see their efforts go to waste, we farmers who would till the soil from money to night, but get nothing because the inputs that he has given whether seed or fertilizer has totally destroyed the quality or that he doesn’t even have inputs, and the place where they struggle to get that input, you will find out that our lack of storage capacity also allows a lot of waste at farm gate, and this also has a negative impact on livelihood of millions of smallholder farmers in Nigeria”, she noted.

The National Coordinator, National Agricultural Seed Advocacy Group (NASAG). Celestine Okeke, while noting that the law bill used by NASC to regulate seedactivity is outdated, adding that the penalty for defaulters are not stringent, said the bill, when signed into law would give constitutional recognition to the council and also enhance the performance of the agency to regulate seed activities in Nigeria. 

He said the call became necessary as several seed companies provide fake seeds and sell to farmers which  has been affecting the productivity especially low yield which has impact on food security in Nigeria.

According to him, “The group’s partnership with seed council is not just to have the bill passed but we are also working with the NASC to see how to improve on its internal processing so that when this bill is passed, it would work as the Seed Council we used to know in the years back. We will work with seed council to make sure it improves its responsibility.

“Though the bill has been in the national assembly for quite a while and it was transferred to Mr President some months back and all the contradiction has been solved and we hope he signs before the Ninth Assembly comes in.

“If we solve the seed issues in Nigeria, we have solved more than 50 percent of the challenges agriculture in the country.

In his remark, the Vice National President, AFAN, Chief Daniel Okafor said the country cannot be self sufficient without having improved seeds in circulation.

Chief Okafor who is also the National President, Potato Farmers Association of Nigeria (POFAN), said with the Presidential assent to the seed bill, NASC will be able monitor whoever is selling adulterated seed, also farmers will have the  right to report fake seed dealers to the council.

“We farmers need the bill to be signed because when we are talking about out-growers, small-scale seed farmers, farmers should get their own seed through the seed council and they should monitor the farmers to make sure everybody get improved seed.

“We cannot talk about food security without seed because food security without distribution quality seed to farmers cannot be achieved. We are asking the government to look into this matter and make sure the bill is passed, if the bill is passed we should look into implementing it and we should monitor whoever is selling adulterated seed,” he averred.

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