On Thursday, 22nd of August 2019, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in collaboration with the National Agriculture Seeds Council (NASC) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) held a regional consultative meeting on popularising the National Agricultural seeds act in Lagos, Nigeria.
Representing the Chief Executive officer of the NESG Mr. ‘Laoye Jaiyeola, Mrs. Feyisayo Ajayi, Head, Think Tank operations at the NESG welcomed everyone to the stakeholder consultative meeting for the National Agricultural seeds council act and made it known that over time, seeds production in Nigeria has been done without the requisite knowledge by a significant percentage of people. She stated that this necessitated the implementation of the Act, Section 19 which states “a person shall not engage in seed production, processing, marketing or importation for commercial purpose unless the person is registered under the NASC Act.” She reiterated that the mission of the NASC is to transform the Nigerian seeds system into a leading seed industry in Sub-Saharan Africa worthy of generating foreign exchange, key employer of labour and contributing positively to the country’s economy.
Speaking on the impact of the National Agricultural Seeds act, the director-general of the NASC, Dr. Olusegun Philip Ojo thanked all sister agencies, collaborators and supporters for their effort and contribution to the signing into law, of the Seed council Act and urged farmers to continuously plant good seeds.
Furthermore, Mr. Brian Udoh, representing the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, stated that his country is very focused on helping small scale farmers everywhere, particularly Nigeria achieve financial freedom. He stated that, "seeing how farmers from other countries are progressing, it is sad to see Nigerian farmers suffering." He pledged the support of his ministry and charged the NASC to continue its consultative meeting and ensure that farmers get all the information they need about the agriculture seeds act.
While delivering a presentation on "Understanding the National Agricultural Seeds Council Act, 2019", Dr. Folarin Okelola made it known that the mission of the NASC is to transform the Nigerian seed system into a leading seed industry in Sub-Saharan Africa worthy of generating foreign exchange, a key employer of labour and also a place that contributes positively to the Nigerian economy. He revealed that a lot of seed production is done by a lot of people ignorantly, and that led to the implementation of the Seed Act, Section 19 which states that “a person shall not engage in seed production, processing, marketing or importation for commercial purpose unless the person is registered under the NASC Act.” He revealed that the NASC is setting up a centre for excellence of seed accreditation and plant variety protection in West Africa, and has been identified as the first in awarding seed certification to registered businesses. He said that the NASC is introducing an automated system that will enable farmers to take pictures of seeds and get information on the quality of the seeds. He also revealed that with the automated system, the NASC has a database of registered seed suppliers and a call centre that farmers can easily obtain information from.
After the presentation, there was a panel session with Mr. Jimmy Zidafamor, Dr. Ishiaku Khalid, Dr. Olusegun Phillip Ojo, Prof. Maruf Adebisi and Dr. Folarin Okelola. Dr.Khalid made it known that technology is evolving and that seeds are now being manufactured in the laboratory. He made it known that members of the NASC are regularly subjected to theory and practical examinations.
Mr. Zidafamor revealed that a policy brief was presented at the 43rd regular meeting of the NASC and that modalities are being put in place for laboratory accreditation to make the best services available for seed production. He said that the NASC does seed certification and recertification; and companies can be downgraded and upgraded depending on their performance.
While responding to questions, Prof. Adebisi said that a small percentage of farmers have access to high quality seeds. He said the NASC will support local breeders in community seed production by helping farmers grow. He noted that farmers need enlightenment on seed selection to be able to adapt the best seeds for their environment. He also advocated for a scheme that allows farmers plant their seeds and also understand soil usage.
The director-general of the NASC, Dr. Ojo in his closing remark said that the NASC act as facilitators and regularly educate stakeholders, while also engaging in surveillance. He noted the importance of capacity building and that the NASC sends its staff out regularly on trainings and workshops. He mentioned that one of the core responsibilities of the NASC is to certify and de-certify seed companies; and that the council is collaborating with commodity associations and banks to ensure the best for the Nigerian agricultural ecosystem.
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) is a private sector led think-tank organisation that promotes sustainable growth and development in the Nigerian economy. The group is a not-for profit/non-partisan organisation with a mandate to promote and champion the reform of the Nigerian economy into an open, private sector-led economy that is globally competitive on a sustainable basis. Over the years, it has emerged as the leading platform for public-private dialogue in Nigeria.