The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has averred that for Nigeria to attain its food security quest, the nation must ensure it has a seeds’ security hinged on a reliable seeds’ system.
Abubakar made this assertion at the fourth edition of SeedConnect Africa Conference and Exhibition, themed “Partnership for a resilient and robust seed industry in Nigeria” organised by the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) today (November 29) in Abuja.
“The importance of seed in achieving sustainable agricultural revolution is sacrosanct. The growth of this sector would be hampered without a properly structured seed system to support the industry.
“Over time, we have agreed that seed is the starting point of any agricultural revolution and a panacea for food and nutritional security. You will agree with me that food security is hinged on seed security and seed security hinged on rock-solid, seeds’ systems,” he said.
Highlighting Federal Government’s efforts in developing the seeds’ sector, Abubakar said the government is building on past policies that rode on seeds’ systems to ensure that agricultural development in Nigeria is truly impactful.
“To fast-track development of agricultural value chains, improve the efficiency of delivery of seeds and other agricultural inputs, and enhance productivity, we have launched the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket (NAGS&AP) implementation and technical working committee. Its mandate is to see to the smooth implementation of input delivery and growth enhancement initiative, for the benefit of farmers across Nigeria. The seed component will be closely monitored,” he assured.
The minister reiterated that the present administration has introduced many initiatives geared towards enhancing food productivity in the country since its inception.
“Since 2015, we have had different policies, different names but, fundamentally, the same goals. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is implementing these policies by promoting research applications, reviving extension services, easing input access, strengthening regulatory frameworks, facilitating affordable credits, increasing commodity output, enhancing processing capacity, broadening market access and expanding revenue earnings.
“We are committed to providing incentives to farmers to increase the output and quality of agricultural commodities to exceed national requirements, the ministry has, among other things, validated farmers’ biometric registration, using tablets for redemption, clustering farmers into commodity value chains and providing minimum input package to farmers,” he added.
Earlier, the NASC director-general, Dr. Philip Ojo, said Nigeria has immensely benefitted from the outcome of the SeedConnect conferences, positing the council has made giant strides over the years in the seeds’ industry.
The NASC boss further said the council had unveiled the seeds’ sector roadmap together with critical stakeholders, which is tailored towards proper coordination and implementation of activities in the seeds’ industry.
Ojo said the amendment of the NASC Act and the introduction of stiffer penalties, as well as a solid foundation for the introduction of technology to police the seeds’ industry, was also part of the achievements of the council.
According to him, the council, in collaboration with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), embarked on markets’ surveillance and enforcement of the Seed Act to curb the unscrupulous activities of peddlers of fake seeds.
In his goodwill message, the president, Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), Otunba Olafare, urged the federal and state governments to create the enabling environment for greater production and processing of early generation seeds (breeder, foundation and certified seeds) that would be available and affordable by seeds’ companies and, eventually, for increased adoption by Nigerian farmers.
He lamented that Nigerian farmers have resorted to the recycling of their grains for planting rather than seeds because of the dearth of early generation seeds (EGS) in the country.
Olafare further appealed to the government, private sector and international development partners to provide adequate and sustainable support to the nation’s research institutes whose use of technology has resulted in many varietal releases that would upscale the supply of quality seeds in the country.