Stakeholders advocate adoption of improved seeds
The Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) held its annual National Seeds Fair and Farmers Field Day. The event attracted stakeholders including Seed Scientists, Researchers, Farmers, Seed Companies, Development Partners.
The seed fair was targeted at showcasing the strides the council has made towards ensuring that research around seed production are aimed at addressing the core needs of the Nigerian farmer especially in the wake of the adverse effects of climate change so as to increase productivity, address nutritional needs of her population and tap into the business side of agriculture for economic growth and ensure a well regulated seed market.
At the event, while highlighting the effects of poor quality seeds, stakeholders agreed that there was need to adopt improved and quality seed by farmers to ensure quality harvest.
The event kicked off with a Symposium which brought together scientists both local and international to brainstorm on the creation of a platform for the promotion of improved seeds to increase adoption by farmers.
The symposium also aimed at creating a platform for seed companies to showcase their proven varieties; increasing linkage between seed companies and farmers, which enhance accessibility and marketing of improved seeds as well as the impact of an unregulated seed market on the Nigerian Agric sector, health of its citizens and the economy.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh at the event noted that without a sustainable seed system, the country will not achieve its target of food sufficiency.
“it is crucial to note that agricultural seeds play a pivotal role for the rapid development and transformation of agriculture. Therefore, without a viable and sustainable seed system, we will be very far from achieving the benefits of an improved and transformed agricultural sector which is a catalyst for economic recovery and development.
“Seeds as we know constitute the farmer’s most precious resource therefore, in making sustainable progress, a catalytic innovative approach must be adopted for ensuring a sustainable seed system to drive the growing needs and concern of the agricultural and economic sector of Nigeria”, Ogbeh said.
The Minister however said “the government will strengthen NASC to enforce the seed laws and continue to deter those defrauding farmers through the sale of low quality seeds; we will also empower our farmers by ensuring they have access to the best quality seeds”.
In his remarks the Director General of NASC, Dr Philip Ojo said the use of regulated improved seeds is the way out for higher productivity and food security enhancement. He called on Nigerians to desist from the use of fake and adulterated seeds.
According to him “The NASC has a national vision to build a market-driven seed industry responsible for the production, distribution and marketing of adequate quantities of quality seeds/ planting materials that are both accessible and affordable to all farmers. The mission of the NASC is to transform the Nigerian seed industry into a foreign exchange earner, key employer of labour and wealth creation.
“It is in pursuant to its vision that the NASC is organising this “March for Improved Seed Adoption” to create awareness for enhanced adoption and use of improved seed to increase demand and drive production of adequate quantities of improved seeds that are accessible and affordable.
“I wish to state categorically that improved seed use is the most cost-effective means of enhancing agricultural productivity. It is important to inform you all that between the event last year and today, a lot of successes have been achieved in the Nigerian Seed industry and I will crave your indulgence to permit me to mention a few of them”.
While speaking, the Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency, (NABDA), Professor Alex Akpa said there no way Nigeria can make progress in agriculture without the adoption of some science tool.
He said various countries who are doing well in agriculture had far adopted biotechnology as a science tool improve crop yield through the use of improved seeds.
His words: “The application of biotechnology in agriculture is basically to improve seeds, so that farmers can have access to quality seeds and improved seeds, seeds that can withstand the weather conditions, the global warming, rise in temperature, that can be resistant to pests and insects, that can also be drought tolerant, flood tolerant and nutritionally enhanced.
“There is no way we can actually take agriculture into business without the use of the tools of science and technology, of course we are talking about biotechnology application.
“It has been safely used in other parts of the world, in all the developed economies that we have today, be it United States, Brazil, Japan, India, China, then Africa, South Africa is using it, and Sudan, this technology has been used for the past 20 to 22 years without any health risk because we have regulatory framework in place, here in Nigeria we also have a regulatory framework, we have the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that this technology is safely used and safely practiced in the country”.
Professor Akpa who was represented by a Deputy Director at the Agency, Dr Rose Gidado informed the gathering of the release of two improved varieties of cotton which has been tested to be high yielding compared to the conventional variety.
“I want to also inform you that we have two varieties of cotton (improved seeds) that has been released for commercialization so that farmers can have access, and these two varieties of cotton are very high yielding, they can give yield of 4.1 to 4.4 tons per hectare, and the conventional ones only give 250 to 900kg per hectare, so you can see the margin, so there is no way we can talk about economic diversification without talking about agriculture and there is no way we can take agriculture to business without the use of appropriate technology, like biotechnology”, he added.
“This Seed fair is very unique because we did a road show to tell Nigerians to desist from using fake seeds, adulterated seeds p, they should go for quality seeds, farmers should go for improved seeds that will give them bumper harvest, that will actually transistor them from the small-scale farming to business farming so that they can be empowered”, the NABDA DG noted.