The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has trained seed certification officers on seed production, sampling techniques and certification as Nigerian farmers formally begin planting genetically modified cowpea known as SAMPEA 20-T.
The workshop by the AATF in partnership with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and the National Agricultural Seeds Council of Nigeria saw the training of 20 NASC staff and 15 technical staff of seed companies.
The training was the second by the partnership in efforts to bring the nation’s seed certification officers up to date with the latest technology in seed testing especially as it relates to identification and testing for the presence of the modified gene in a plant or seed.
AATF trained the first batch of seed certification officers in 2019, the 2021 round of training is the first time the seed certification officers were joined by technical officers from the three seed companies licensed to market SAMPEA 20-T.
Speaking at the event, AATF regional representative for West Africa, Dr Issoufou Kollo, said the foundation was dedicating resources to strengthening the capacity of Nigerian seed certification officers by equipping them with the latest knowledge and techniques to ensure they carry out their duties diligently and also helping to educate seed company technical staff on the effective agricultural practices that could help them become more productive in their seed production activities.
He said a lot of work and time went into the development and release of SAMPEA 20-T and as such the seed certification officers and seed companies must ensure that Nigerian farmers reap maximum benefit from planting it.
In his opening remarks, IAR executive director, Prof. Mohammed Ishiyaku, said the training was timely as it would prepare the national seed certification officers to effectively monitor and regulate the nationwide deployment of genetically modified crop varieties in the country.
Ishiyaku said the training also offered the officers and the seed companies the opportunity to interact with the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea project’s scientists and chart a way forward for the nation’s seed sector.
Earlier, the director of seed certification, NASC, Dr. Ishiak Khalid, said the training facilitated by AATF would position the seed certification officers to play relevant roles as Nigeria begins the planting of genetically modified crops.
“For us at NASC, this is another opportunity for us to learn and interact with breeders on what to look out for, when and how to carry out the check when our officers go to the field,” he said.
He enjoined the officers to take the training seriously in preparation for the tasks ahead.
A statement by the AATF communication officer (West and Central Africa), Alex Abutu, said the two-day training was attended by officers from the north-east geo-political zone of the country and officers from Techni, Maina and GoldAgric Seed companies.