James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono has directed the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) to ensure that the laws governing seed administration and regulation are effectively implemented going forward.
He said it was the desire of the federal government to see that the council implement to the letter, contents of the new Seed Act 2019, which seeks among other things to boost regulation in the seeds industry and curb the menace of seed counterfeiting which had threatened food security.
The regulation further stipulates stiff penalties for infractions.
Speaking over the weekend at the 2020 Green Field Day with the theme: “Using Quality Seeds to Mitigate COVID-19,” which was organised by the NASC, the minister said the regulation seeks to ensure that the seed sector functions effectively so that farmers have access to quality seeds and better return on investment.
Represented by Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs. Kareema Babangida, Nanono further urged farmers to always plant improved high quality seeds that will increase their productivity as well as encourage the seed entrepreneurs to continuously dedicate time and finance to research and development of new innovations.
The minister stressed that quality improved seeds were essential in the drive to revitalise the economy, adding that it is therefore necessary to make quality inputs available, scale up production of high performing crop varieties as well as improve on extension delivery services.
He said: “The Green Field Day demonstrations is a testimony to the incredible efforts on the part of NASC and the seed entrepreneurs in ensuring availability and accessibility of multiple options of high quality improved seeds for farmers to choose from.”
He said one of such technologies is the Bt Cotton which according to him, is President Muhammadu Buhari’s priority area for economic growth through the revitalisation of the textile and garment industry.
However, Director General of the council, Dr. Philip Ojo revealed that discussion was ongoing with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other stakeholders to facilitate the successful commencement of the Anchor Borrower Programme on wheat production projects for one million farmers.
He said the council in collaboration with security agencies had carried out sting operations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where about 10 seed outlets were visited and raided adding that 360.88 kilogrammes of fake seeds were confiscated and set alight.
Ojo, further called for expedition of action on the passage of the bill for an Act to provide for the Protection of Plant Varieties (PVP), adding that supporting the development of new plant varieties is an essential response to achieving food security and agricultural sustainability in the context of climate change and agribusiness.
According to him, the development and adoption of improved seeds is instrumental to making food available and affordable for all.