The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in Nigeria has recently trained Licensed Seed Inspectors (LSI) to ensure the utilization of quality cassava seeds as part of efforts to enhance food security.
During the launch of a two-day training program in Ibadan, Oyo State, the Director of NASC, Dr. Ishiak Khalid, represented by the South-West Regional Coordinator, Dr. Adekunle Adeseko, emphasized the significance of this initiative.
The program, held in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), was tagged ‘Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed (BASICS-II) for Cassava Licensed Seed Inspectors.’ It aimed to empower inspectors to maintain high-quality standards for cassava seed utilization.
Khalid mentioned that the NASC has set the pace in cassava seed certification in West Africa. Efforts are ongoing to enhance efficiency by implementing digital certification, focusing particularly on cassava through the use of a seed tracker.
He urged the Licensed Seed Inspectors (LSI) to proactively ensure compliance with seed quality, emphasizing the council’s vigilance in monitoring the actions of informal seed entrepreneurs.
Addressing the challenges in cassava certification in the South West, Khalid noted the low adoption of the seed tracker by new Seed Entrepreneurs. He pointed out that in the South West, NASC is integrating newly licensed cassava growers and processors who do not understand the need to register their cassava seed field on the seed tracker for quality assurance.
According to him, “another challenge is the sourcing cassava seeds from the informal seed sector. Cassava seeds move from one place to another either as farmers exchange or unchecked due to weak seed law enforcement compounded by logistics at the community and without recourse to its health status”
Dr. Khalid stressed that raising awareness is key to overcoming these issues. He also highlighted the financial constraints faced by the council in promoting awareness on the need to cultivate cassava using seeds rather than stems from old plants meant for root production.
Khalid further emphasized the importance of partnerships and commended the collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which have been supporting the realization of the council’s objectives.
The desk officer, Basics-ll, NASC, Dr Bankole Osho-Lagunju, stated that the decentralization of seed quality assurance is a new approach the NASC is considering due to the scarcity of manpower compared to the increasing number of seed producers in the country.
He said, “Having trained personnel like this will complement NASC officers, bring quality assurance closer to the people and make it more responsive as well as creating income for those engaged.”