Farmers across the country, operating under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) have drummed up support for the passage of three bills, the Seed Act, Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and Biosafety respectively before the National Assembly (NASS).
A statement signed by the association’s national president, Arc. Kabir Ibrahim, the farmers urged the lawmakers to pass the biosafety bill, saying nothing should be done to scuttle the effort to embrace biotechnology which leads to the production of GM technology that helps in the production of high yielding seeds which are drought and disease resistant, thereby taking them out of poverty
They pointed out that they were fully represented at the public hearing of the bills at separate occasions and gave their tacit support for their passage after studying the drafts and making input.
They argued that there is no scientifically established nexus between GMO and cancer, adding those opposed to the technology are all over the place trying to take the nation back from marching forward in term of development.
“We will start with the Biosafety Bill which is already in place and deals with the safety of GM technology and the release of GM crops for cultivation after ascertaining their safety for both human and animal consumption. The authority to regulate this technology is vested in the National Biosafety ManagementAgency (NBMA) which has the responsibility of permitting the use of GMO crops after due diligence,” it said.
On the Seed Act 2019 already signed into law and makes the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) the regulating authority of agricultural seed in Nigeria, the statement said seed system is vital to agricultural growth and requires extreme care in handling and use because it has life, pointing out there is a clear distinction between seed and grain.
“Unless this is properly regulated the farmers will continue to plant grains instead of seeds and thereby remain poor due to low yield. Hybridization on farms and laboratories is allowed and regulated in the Seed Act as such the farmers can retain their seeds that they develop over time,” it stated.
On the PVP, the association through it’s president described the bill as the copy right over varieties developed by breeders and farmers alike.
“Without the protection provided by PVP the efforts of our researchers and breeders would be hijacked and other people will be reluctant to avail us with their material for use without control or remuneration. From the foregoing the farmers have a simple mind and fully understand these bills and believe they will help them to carry on with their businesses sustainably. Mr. President is invited to kindly assent to the PVP Bill for the benefit of the Nigerian farmers,” it added.