The National Agricultural Seeds Council, (NASC), has developed e-certification and quality control platform to ascertain quantity and quality of all traded seed online. The Director General of the Council, Dr. Philip Ojo, stated this recently a 2-day Stakeholders Workshop on Addressing Challenges of Early Generation Seed Varieties in line with the Green Alternative Agenda of Government, held in Abuja. He said the essence of the workshop was to find solution to shortage of early generation seeds for farmers.
“The essence of the workshop is to ensure that we have early generation seeds for multiplication, certified seeds in this country so that farmers will have access to good quality seeds for production and that is what we are exactly doing today. We also want to look at the capacity of the big institutions, what they are doing and whether there are challenges, and see the way forward.
“We also have the capacity to monitor, regulate and control production, distribution and sale of seeds by seed companies to the farmers. We were able to sanction three erring seed companies,” he said.
Delivering a keynote address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, lamented the lacks of seed breeders in the nation’s agricultural research institutes due to retirement of front-line breeders.
Adding that in this vein the ministry will support and encourage young agricultural officers to take up genetics and plant breeding at MSc. level, and maintained that in this vein the Ministry has commenced the process to return Universities of Agriculture to the ministry to produce manpower in the various industries under the sector.
He also expressed worry over lack of wheat seed in the on-going dry season farming across the country. He said:
The crucial role of seed as major catalyst for rapid development and transformation of agriculture in many nations of the world cannot be overemphasized. The development and adoption of improved seeds were responsible for successful achievements in green revolution in some Asian countries.
The early generation (breeder and foundation) seeds are required for successful multiplication into commercial seeds (certified seeds) for use by farmers to produce grain. In succession, certified seed is the progeny of foundation seed while foundation seed is the progeny of breeder seed.
The seed system of many food and industrial crops is collapsing due to inadequate quantities and poorly coordinated production of early generation seeds such that we resorted to the use of ‘plantable materials’ as seed when we could not get seed to roll out in this on-going dry season GES scheme. Cotton has suffered the same fate among other crops. This trend must stop.
There is a growing concern over the non-availability of the early seed varieties in adequate quantities, quality and productivity for the development and sustenance of viable seed system of various crops in the seed industry.
According to him low yield of existing crop varieties in Nigeria has become a source of worry in the sector compared to other countries, like in Asia, where they celebrate rice yield average of 15 to 20 metric tonnes per Ha, while Nigeria glories in three to five metric tonnes per Ha. Participants at the workshop include scientists, breeders, researchers, policy makers, and key stakeholders.