Saturday, November 27, 2021

AATF, Partners Launch Coy To Tackle Seed Production Gap In West Africa

EcoBasics
L-R: The executive secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Prof. Garba Sharubutu and the director-general, National Agricultural Seed Council, Dr. Philip Ojo unveiling the EcoBasic Seed logo while other stakeholders observe during the launch in Abuja.

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) has launched a start-up company in Nigeria dedicated to the production of foundation seeds for seed companies in the West African sub-region.

Funded by seed grant from the BMGF, the private for-profit foundation seed entity EcoBasic Seed, located in Kaduna State of Nigeria, will produce foundation seed of the highest quality and purity for the Nigerian and West African markets.

Speaking at the launch yesterday in Abuja, the AATF executive director, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, described the company as a “child of necessity created to fill a vacuum that has denied farmers access to quality and pure seeds”.

Kanangire said self-sufficiency in agricultural food production is the strategic priority for every West Africa nation, and the journey to food security begins with high quality foundation seeds of undiluted purity.

“Quality seed is a crucial component of agricultural productivity, with high quality and pure seeds, the farmers are sure of having a good harvest. If we can solve the challenges associated with seeds on the continent, then our agriculture can be on the path to growth,” he said.

According to him, EcoBasic Seed Company is coming at a time when the seed sub-sector in the region needs a vibrant player to fill in the gap.

“EcoBasic seed company is driven by the mission to sustainably produce foundation seeds of the highest quality and purity for hybrid seed production for seed companies; thereby enhancing profitability, productivity and food security in West Africa.

“It is our belief that, through the reliable production and supply of high-quality seed, we will enhance the access to and availability of clean foundation seeds for commercial seeds’ companies, to ensure optimal seed yield on the fields of seeds’ producers and sufficient seeds production for commercial use. EcoBasic Seed Company Limited will produce, process and supply high-quality foundation seed to companies across the Nigerian and West African seeds’ markets,” he stated.

Earlier in his welcome address, the managing director, EcoBasic Seed Company Limited, Mr. Brighton Karume, said the company is coming to fill the gap by providing quality and sustainable foundation seeds solutions to hybrid companies; increasing the productivity and profitability of seeds’ companies and farmers in Nigeria; as well as the catalysation of the development of hybrid maize technology adoption rate in Nigeria.

The company’s services include providing genetically pure foundation seeds so that the genetic potential of the hybrids is realized; availing its customers, the seeds’ companies with hybrid seeds production agronomy information; create demand through the increased awareness of customers on the benefits of hybrid seeds; and to transform open pollinated varieties (OPV) seeds’ maize companies to produce hybrid maize.

According to him, the company targets indigenous and international seed companies that produce certified hybrid seeds in the greater ECOWAS region.

Karume added that the EcoBasic is currently focusing on foundation seed for hybrid seed maize production but plans to expand its product portfolio to include additional staple grain crops such as rice, cowpea, soybean and sorghum and will expand to new markets within West Africa.

In his goodwill message, the director-general, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, averred that seed are the foundation for a successful agricultural practice, stressing that Africa needs quality foundation seeds with undiluted purity to be self-sufficient in agricultural food production and attain food security.

“Today you are all aware that Over 90 per cent of the Early Generation Seeds (EGS) – breeder and foundation seeds – sourced in Nigeria comes from research institutions. However, these research institutions struggle to meet the rising demand for high-quality foundation seeds from seeds’ companies due to inadequate financial and technical support. The productivity and profitability of indigenous seeds companies ultimately limit farmers’ access to high quality seed.

“I have been informed that EcoBasic Seed Company is driven by the mission to produce foundation seeds of the highest quality and purity for hybrid seed production for seed companies, thereby enhancing profitability, productivity and food security in West Africa,” he added.

Similarly, the director-general, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Philip Ojo, said the launch is a direct result of the advocacy of SEEDAN for their members’ easy access to available early generation seeds (EGS) of crop varieties.

He described the entrance of EcoBasic into Nigeria’s seeds’ sector as apt and urged the company to hit the ground running, and start contributing its quota to Nigeria’s desire to be a center of excellence for seeds’ industry development in Africa.

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