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April 17, 2024

Stakeholders Task Govt on Quality Improved Seeds for Food Security

Stakeholders in the seed industry have said inadequate quantities of seeds and poorly coordinated production of early generation seeds are responsible for the collapse of the seed system of many food and industrial crops in the country, calling for quality improved seeds to boost food security.

Specifically speaking at the Workshop on National Strategic Seed Planting Meeting organised by National Agricultural Seeds Council(NASC) in collaboration with Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria(ARCN), Dr. Ishiak Khalid, Acting Director General of NASC, explained that as a result of inadequate quantities of improved seeds, that the Federal Government “resorted to the use of “plantable materials as seed.

He noted that this was done when they could not get adequate wheat seed for roll out in the just concluded dry season wheat seed distribution under the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-Pocket (NAGS-AP) project.

He further emphasised the need for urgent attention to be given to the production of improved seeds with a well articulated production planning and proper coordination to meet up with the National Seeds Demand.

According to him, “The crucial role of seed as a major catalyst for rapid development and transformation of agriculture in many nations of the world cannot be over-emphasised.

“Improved seed, as a key input, enhances agricultural productivity and ensures food security as it is the carrier of the genetic potential of the crop plant which determines the upper limit of yield and the ultimate productivity of fertilizer, agro- chemicals and other inputs including machines and farming techniques.”

On his part, the  Acting Director General of NASC, challenged researchers, breeders, breeding institutions (both national and international) to rise up to the occasion and do more. 

He urged them  to improve and develop better varieties, and partner strongly with stakeholders to ensure that these varieties get to the hands of farmers along with appropriate best agronomic practices that will produce the desired result while the need for continual research to develop new varieties of higher yield that are climate smart, pest and disease resistant be also prioritised. 

Commenting on the essence of the workshop that brought together key stakeholders in the seed industry, Khalid said: “Pursuant to its mandate, the NASC strategically designed a National Seed Planning Workshop which assembles all key stakeholders in the Agricultural seed sector for strategic seed production planning to ensure provision of quality improved seeds to meet the National Seed Requirement (NSR) for food production in the country.

“It was also aimed at ascertaining the immediate needs for quality seed in the country, identify the challenges of inadequate Early Generation Seeds (EGS) by NARIs, quality certified seed and develop a strategic plan for the development of the seed sector in Nigeria.”

In his goodwill message, Yusuf Ado Kibiya,

President, Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), explained that Seed Planning is important for improving access to improved quality seeds and essential for quality assurance in any crop value chain.

Kibiya, however, noted that the use of improved seeds in Nigeria is very low, which is less than 20%, when compared to countries, especially in East and Southern Africa which record well above 60%.

He further noted that no investment is too much on seeds development, adding that “every effort must be made to nurture the seed sector in order not to permit a relapse into the old and primitive tradition that promotes poverty.”

Also speaking, Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of National Agricultural Development Fund(NADF), Muhammed Abu Ibrahim, noted that the potential in seed demand is increasing for crop production, adding that Nigeria has 92 million hectares of arable land, 32 million being cultivated annually and over 400,000 metric tons potential annual seed demand with less than 80,000 metric tons of improved seeds is planted annually which implies a huge annual deficit of over 300,000 metric tons of improved seeds is required.

Ibrahim expressed the readiness of NADF to partner with the NASC, ARCN and other stakeholders in the sector such as seed companies and agro dealers, community-based seed producers to resolve issues associated with research, adulteration, availability, access and distribution, capacity building and information dissemination networks.

The aim of the event was  for stakeholders to brainstorm on how to ensure that National Seeds demand is met in line with Nigeria’s quest to achieve food security.

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