James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has said his administration will ensure that farmers have access to better quality seeds across the country to help increase their productivity and income as well as achieve food security.
He said the ministry was committed to providing necessary support needed by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), agricultural research institutes and stakeholders in the seed value chain to provide and promote the use of improved quality seeds by farmers.
Speaking at the NESG – NASC stakeholders’ consultative meeting on the National Agricultural Seeds Council Act, 2019 on Tuesday, he said President Muhammadu Buhari had further demonstrated his commitment to the diversification of the economy to achieve sustainable growth and economic development by signing the law.
He said: “As a matter of priority, we must support the agricultural sector with the right policies and regulations as this sector is the only viable way to survive the current environment of global economic uncertainty with volatility of oil price.”
Nanono, however, stressed that the importance of seed in achieving sustainable agricultural revolution could not be underestimated.
He said growth in agriculture would be hampered without adequate funding of research institutions to generate proven varieties and a properly structured seed system to support the industry.
He described seed as the starting point of any agricultural revolution as well as panacea for food and nutritional security.
Director General of NASC, Dr. Phillip Ojo, also said the seed determines the effectiveness of all other agricultural inputs and often determines the height a country can go in agricultural transformation.
Ojo stated that Nigeria and the African continent as a whole currently contribute insignificantly to and benefit little from the international seed trade because “We are yet to embrace a host of initiatives that will enable us to play and participate in the global seed business.”
He said an enabling legislation, such as the newly passed seed law represented major tool that could change the dynamics in the industry.
He said the Act will help the NASC to deliver on its vision of creating a seed system that is market driven and capable of producing and distributing high quality and improved planting materials that are available, accessible and affordable to all farmers.
According to him:”A nation’s agricultural sector can only advance when farmers of the country have access to available crop varieties that can give the best yield and resist/ tolerate various stresses that confront agricultural plants on the field today.
“We will ensure that going forward all procurement of seeds by any agency public, private or international must be done after receipt of a no objection from the NASC that the supplier is a duly accredited one that has record of capacity to supply whatever quantity of seeds he is contracted to supply.”