The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has touted quality seeds as the key to increased agricultural yield as the ministry continues to drive policies that will guarantee food security, nutrition, and economic growth.
The minister disclosed this during his familiarisation visit to the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Sheda, Gwagwalada yesterday in Abuja.
Abubakar noted that quality seeds would ensure a credible, dynamic competitive and relevant ecosystem for healthy and high-quality planting materials for Nigerian farmers.
He appreciated the agency for its contribution towards ensuring the availability of quality seeds for Nigerian farmers, adding that the ministry will continue to support the agency to achieve its core mandate.
“NASC is Africa’s leading seed regulator, which has fostered the emergence of a globally competitive seed sector, with planting material that is available, accessible and affordable for all farmers,” he said.
In his welcome remarks, the director-general, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Phillip Ojo, stated that the agency has made remarkable achievements which included; the successful review of the National Agricultural Seeds Council Act (today, we have the NASC Act 2019), the Introduction of a plant variety protection (PVP) law in Nigeria (PVP Act 2021), a molecular laboratory that can compete with any other in the world, implementation of the turn-key electronic seed authentication system (‘SeedCodex’) and development of plant descriptors for select varieties of maize, rice and soy.
“The NASC has a responsibility to ensure that only seeds that have met the minimum standards as provided for in the act are sold to farmers, certifies all seed field intended for marketing in Nigeria – including breeder seeds, foundation seeds and certified seeds,” he said.
The minister was later conducted round the molecular laboratory, bio-chemical laboratory, central seed testing laboratory, moisture content section, germination section, quality control center and a cotton demonstration farm – all within the agency.
Also, the minister visited the rice mill under construction at Sheda, Gwagwalada and promised to ensure the completion of the project before the end of the first quarter of 2022.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by Mohammed Gana, said the construction of the rice mill via a private-public partnership arrangement is part of government’s drive to create jobs, diversify the economy and attain self-sufficiency in rice production in the country.
The rice mill is said to have the capacity to process four metric tonnes of rice per hour when completed.