In a bid to expedite development in the agricultural sector, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has recently introduced the Revised National Agricultural Seed Policy 2022. The policy aims to ensure increased access to high-quality seeds, bolster food and nutrition security, and encourage the involvement of women and youth in the seed value chain.
During the launch event held at his conference room in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar emphasised that the new policy document is an investment in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, recognising the pivotal role of seeds in enhancing farmers’ productivity and boosting the country’s gross domestic production (GDP).
The minister acknowledged that the enactment of the National Agricultural Seed Act, No 21 of 2019, and the Plant Variety Protection Act, No 5 of 2021 has expanded the responsibilities and scope of operations of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC). He highlighted that the present seed policy document represents the collaborative efforts of NASC and various stakeholders who have provided valuable inputs to ensure that farmers have unrestricted access to superior genetics for enhanced productivity.
Several innovations have been introduced in the policy document, including SEEDCODEX, a quality authentication tool and traceability system to curb adulteration and the participation of third-party seed inspectors in the quality assurance process. The establishment of satellite and private seed testing laboratories, as well as strategic seed banks, aims to serve as reserves and buffer stocks in case of food emergencies while also promoting the active involvement of women and youth in the seed business.
Moreover, the council has introduced additional innovations and technologies such as third-party certification, seed tracker, NASC Seed Information Management Platform (NASIMP), NASC Electronic Survey Tool (NEST), e-Library and molecular diagnostics system. These advancements aim to streamline the delivery of quality seeds to Nigeria’s farming population.
Abubakar revealed that the policy has facilitated the availability of 89,512.10 metric tonnes of assorted improved seed varieties for planting by farmers in the upcoming 2023 cropping season. He also highlighted Nigeria’s imminent deposit of the instrument of ascension to the Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) General Assembly, which would enable the country to leverage international seed trade opportunities.
The minister commended the efforts of development partners, particularly Feed the Future, Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity (NAIA) of USAID and AGRA for their contributions to promoting agribusiness in Nigeria.
The director-general of NASC, Dr. Philip Ojo stated in his welcome address that the Revised Policy would invigorate the National Seed System, fostering growth and development to build upon the progress and reforms made in the seed sub-sector. He emphasized that the policy aligns with the Federal Government’s goal of not only achieving food security but also becoming a net exporter of agricultural produce among nations.
Ojo further emphasised the policy’s utilization of technology and innovation to enhance the seed industry. He noted that the review process involved data gathering, desk reviews by an international authority on seed policy and extensive stakeholder consultations, leading to the policy’s final approval in March 2023.
Chief of party of USAID Feed-the-Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity (NAIA), Olumide Ojo highlighted the significance of the policy in strengthening efforts for producing quality seeds, addressing seed fraud and ensuring a healthy seed supply to enhance agricultural productivity and food security in Nigeria. NAIA, a five-year USAID-funded programme, aims to strengthen the enabling environment for agribusiness finance and investment in Nigeria. Ojo pledged continued collaboration and partnership throughout the project’s lifespan to improve agribusiness and support critical infrastructure development in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
The launch of the Revised National Agricultural Seed Policy 2022 Document was the highlight of the event, as announced in a statement by the ministry’s director of information, Ikemefuna Ezeaja. The policy sets the stage for advancing Nigeria’s agricultural sector and fortifying the nation’s food and nutrition security while promoting inclusivity and sustainable growth.