Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has issued new regulations to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Crops Research Institute for Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), AfricaRice and other international agricultural centres, to ensure that all seed variants produced by them carry approved NASC certification tags as prescribed by the Nigerian seed law.
Director General of NASC, Dr. Philip Olusegun Ojo issued the directive yesterday at a briefing in response to myriad of complaints by farmers nationwide against the supply of low quality seeds under the intervention funds managed by government funded agencies and international donor organisations.
Farmers had alleged that criminal breaches of the National Seed Law was affecting and eroding confidence in the sector and hampering the national food security.
Some of the allegations were inscription of false information on label and use of trickery to mislead third parties on quality of seeds offered for sale, distribution for animals or human consumption of seeds treated with substance dangerous for consumption, import and export of seeds without the knowledge and permission of NASC and production and marketing of seeds without approval.
Ojo decried the practice of some agencies, including those owned by government, to allocate seed supply contract to unregistered companies and in most cases far above their categorisation.
He warned that while NASC would no longer condone the sharp practices by individuals and companies under various seed programmes, the industry will only be open to those recognised by National Agricultural Seeds Act 72 of 1992.
He said that henceforth, all containers shall be tagged in a manner clearly indicating the name and address of all producers and other details as entrenched in the national seed law.
“Any packaging containing certified seeds shall bear a certification tag issued by NASC which shall be different from the label of the seed producer. And in accordance with Section 16, subsection 1, all import and export of seed shall be subject to prior declaration to NASC and the National Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) and all seed export shall be accompanied by a phyto-sanitary certificate issued by NAQS,” Ojo declared.
He threatened that the agency will strictly enforce the rules, carry out raids to stores and markets and will not hesitate to prosecute individuals or organizations that contravene any of the provisions of the subsisting laws.