Food security threatened without quality seed ― Minister

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar has said that the country may not achieve its quest to attain food security if it does not have quality seeds.

The Minister disclosed this at the 4th Edition of SeedConnect Africa Conference and Exhibition with the theme ‘Partnership for a Resilient and Robust Seed Industry in Nigeria’ organised by the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).

Dr Abubakar said the growth of the agricultural sector would be truncated without a properly structured seed system to support the industry.

“The importance of seed in achieving a sustainable agricultural revolution is sacrosanct. The growth of this sector would be hampered without a properly structured seed system to support the industry.

“Over time, we have agreed that seed is the starting point of any agricultural revolution and a panacea for food and nutritional security. You will agree with me that food security is hinged on seed security, and seed security is hinged on rock-solid seed systems.

The Minister said the government is building on past policies that rode on seed systems to achieve an incredible impact on agricultural development in Nigeria.

“To fast-track development of Agricultural value chains, improve the efficiency of the delivery of seeds and other Agri inputs, and enhance productivity, we have launched the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket (NAGS&AP) Implementation and Technical working committee.

“Their mandate is to see to the smooth implementation of input delivery and growth enhancement initiative, for the benefit of farmers across Nigeria. The seed component is one that will be closely monitored,” he said.

He called on stakeholders to join forces with the government together to build a strong and sustainable seed delivery system.

“Working in isolation will only make the value chain break, causing unprecedented systemic disruptions. In more advanced economies, actors in the seed value chain specialize and partner.

“That is one reason why they remain resilient over generations. I am encouraging investors not only to go into seed production. The seed value chain is wide and very profitable,” the Minister noted.

In his remarks, the Director-General of NASC, Dr Philip Ojo said over the years, Nigeria’s seed system has benefited immensely from SeedConnect Conferences.

He said the Introduction of a Plant Variety Protection (PVP) law in Nigeria (PVP Act 2021) started in 2018 shortly after the first edition of SEEDCONNECT Africa 2018.

“Today, I am happy to announce that Nigeria now has a Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Law, and we are making efforts to complete Nigeria’s membership of the international union for the protection of new plant varieties (UPOV),” he added.

He said the amendment of the NASC Act with the introduction of stiffer penalties and a solid foundation for the introduction of technology to police the Seed Industry was also part of the achievements of the Council.

Dr Ojo further noted that with Council’s collaboration with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), it has been able to scale up Seed Market Surveillance and enforcement of Standards

Still highlighting some of the achievements of the Council, he listed “development of the NASC Electronic Survey Tool (NEST); a data capturing, and analytical tool hosted on Google play store and accessed by any android device which is deployed for data generation, analysis, and knowledge sharing.

“Membership of the ISTA – Nigeria is now a member of the International Seed testing association (ISTA) – and our Central Lab undergoing is currently undergoing ISTA Audit for it to become an ISTA accredited laboratory,” Ojo added.

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