Article by Obinna Chima for ThisDayLive.com
The Director General, National Agriculture Seeds Council (NASC), Dr. Philip Olusegun Oni, has said the government agency has introduced technology in its operations as part of efforts to enhance the quality of seeds in the country.
Oni, said this during an interactive session with journalists in Lagos, recently.
According to him, the NASC recently launched the National Seed Tracker (NST) at Ibadan. He explained that the NST started as a cassava seed tracker and yam seed tracker.
“But what we have now is not only a tracker that is specifically tailored to a particular crop, but a national seed crop. It is an app whereby a lot of operators can operate and you see what is happening along the seed value chain from the beginning to the end of it.
“It was done at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), because IITA is a major partner to us and under the umbrella of IITA, there are other programmes which are sponsored by BMGF.
“One of them is the basic which would call a building a sustainable and integrated seed system for cassava. The other programme is the Yam Improvement for Food Security in West Africa, which they are funded by BMGF and we are partners to ensure that whatever gaps that are along the value chain are actually blocked, whilst information along the value chain become available,” he explained.
Oni, disclosed that Nigeria currently produces between 60 and 70 per cent of the seeds in West Africa, stressing that the NASC has been leveraging on technology to ensure that farmers have adequate access to quality seeds.
He also hailed members of his governing board for the support they have continued to give to the council.
“We have been working together to move the industry forward and we have been able to accomplish a lot, even though funding has been a challenge in the industry.
“But we have been able to tackle some of these problems instead of waiting for the federal government to release budget.
“So, we are partnering with a lot of stakeholders both national and international. These partnerships and collaborations have actually assisted us in enabling us to achieve some of the things we have done and also building the capacity of some of our staff as many have been trained in the UK and today they are champions in their various areas,” he added.
He welcomed the recent repeal and re-enactment of the Seed Law, now known as the National Agricultural Council Act, Number 21 of 2019.
According to him, it took the NASC a long time to achieve the feat.
“It is important to have a new Act because there are changing trends in the global trade industry and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.
“There are also other things that were not in the old act which hasbeen added. One major issue is that of penalty for doing the wrong
thing in the seed industry. That is because in any other professional businesses, there are also fraudulent and deceitful people as well as regulations
that should not be broken. “The penalties in the Seed Act before it was repealed, was very minimal. Example, if anybody runs fowl of the law in the old Act, he or she would just pay a fine of N50,000 for a first time offender; N100,000 for a repeat offender as well as a jail term of six months.
“But in this new Act, if the first term offender is found guilty he or she is to pay N1 million and a jail term of one year, while a repeat offender would pay N2 million and a jail term of two years.”