STAKEHOLDERS at the SeedConnect Africa have come up with solutions on how to address the multiple challenges affecting the growth of the Nigeria’s seed system.
SeedConnect Africa is an annual programme organised by the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) where stakeholders in the seed industry around the world converge to discuss issues affecting the seed industry.
In this year’s SeedConnect, the Director General of NASC, Dr Philip Ojo said the importance of SeedConnect Africa cannot be overemphasized as it brings together seed industry stakeholders from all over the world to discuss and deliberate on issues and topics of mutual benefits to seed system.
Ojo said the SeedConnect Africa over the years gave way for the introduction of Plant Variety Protection (PVP Act 2021) Law in Nigeria.
This journey according to him started fully in 2018 shortly after the first edition of the SeedConnect Africa.
“Today I am happy to announce that Nigeria has a PVP Act and we are making efforts to complete the Nigerian membership of the International Union of Protection of New Plant Variety.
“We are currently doing a lot to operationalise this law, we have begin the process of setting up the PVP office, currently we have a draft regulation which was reviewed and validated by experts”, Dr Ojo said.
He said the second achieved by SeedConnect is the amendment of the NASC Seed Act with the introduction of stiffer penalties and solid foundations for the introduction of technologies to police the seed industry.
“With our collaboration with the Nigerian Securities and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), we have been able to scale up seed market surveillance and enforcement of standards because we need to sanitise the Nigerian seed industry”, he noted.
Mainza Mugoya, the Program Coordinator of The African Seed Access Index (TASAI), said quality control, Capacity of seed companies, extension services and funding for research institutes remain the major challenges of the seed system.
“There are several challenges in the seed system and these challenges vary by country. In Nigeria, one of the challenge is still on quality control, there is need to ensure that quality is maintained in the very beginning from research through production of basic seed, through the processing of the seed up to commercialization because any of those steps can be compromised with the expected quality.
“The second challenge is the capacity of the seed companies. Seed companies need to have capacity to meet the quality control guidelines that the government has set.
“That is the production standard, the inspection standard, the processing standard, the labelling and marketing standard have to be adhered to the latter.
“Sometimes when companies are established they need time to build their capacity to meet those standards.
“The third challenge is the extension services. In Nigeria the capacity of the extension services is still a bit weak.
“The fourth challenge is the funding and technical support to research institutions that develop seed varieties which are commercialised for farmers.
“In many cases, these institutions lack the funding to do the breeding activities and also maintaining the varieties they have produced”, he explained.
The Head of Building Sustainable Seed System for Cassava (BASIC II), Professor Lateef Sanni said the poor funding of the Agricultural Development Program (ADP) has weakened the extension advisory services for seed.
Professor Sanni who is also a Professor of Food Science and Technology, said investment in extension advisory services will enhance proper usage of seeds which will further enhance agricultural productivity.
“If you look at what World Bank did by setting up state Agricultural Development Program (ADP). They were the best tool to actually extend some of these technologies and best practices to farmers in rural level.
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“But unfortunately, we keep on reducing the funding to ADPs. For instance we have about 1000 seed producers but for us to reach them, we have to make use of some of the ADPs and some private NGOs.
“So, the combination of those public and private extension advisory support is very important to reach to millions of farmers, because it is one thing for you to plant high yielding disease resistant seed and it is another thing for you to use good agronomic practices or six steps in weed management.
“So, investment in extension advisory services is a key principal factor to enhancing our agricultural productivity as a nation”, he stated.
He also called on Nigeria government to invest in agricultural Universities to have a seed technical hub, which he said will enhance the development of the country’s seed system.
“Another this is that nobody is investing in university having what I call Seed Technical Hub in all the Universities in each region, at least six universities to cover our agroecological zones as a nation.
“Most universities are not part of this type of interventions. This is an area I want to call on th federal government to look into, there is need to support seed development centres especially in universities of agriculture and universities that have strong faculty of agriculture in Nigeria”, Professor Sanni added.