By Halimah Yahaya
Nigeria must find solutions to the problem of seed quality control if its agricultural sector is to contribute significantly to the growth of the economy.
The Program Coordinator of the African Seed Access Index (TASAI), Mainza Mugoya, who gave the advice said seed quality control has remained a major challenge in the seed system in the country.
Mugoya said this while making a presentation at the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) SeedConnect Conference and Expo, 2022 on the theme: “Innovations & Strategies for Sustainably Achieving Seed Security in Nigeria and Africa.”
SeedConnect Africa is an annual programme organized by the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) to provide stakeholders in the seed industry around the world the opportunity to discuss issues affecting the seed industry.
“There are several challenges in the seed system, and these challenges vary from country to country. In Nigeria, one of the challenges is still quality control. There is a need to ensure that quality is maintained in the very beginning from research through the production of basic seed, through the processing of the seed up to commercialization, because any of those steps can be compromised with the expected quality,” Mugoya said.
He said quality control is the capacity of seed companies and extension services, adding that funding for research institutes remained the major challenges of the seed system.
The second challenge, he said, is the capacity of the seed companies to meet the quality control guidelines that the government has set.
“That is the production standard, the inspection standard, the processing standard, the labeling, and marketing standard have to adhere to the latter.
“Sometimes when companies are established they need time to build their capacity to meet those standards.
“The third challenge is the extension services. In Nigeria, the capacity of extension services is still a bit weak.
“The fourth challenge is the funding and technical support to the research institutions that develop seed varieties that are commercialized for farmers.
“In many cases, these institutions lack the funding to do the breeding activities and also maintain the varieties they have produced”, he explained.
Earlier the Director General of NASC, Philip Ojo said the importance of SeedConnect Africa cannot be overemphasized as it brings together seed industry stakeholders from all over the world to discuss and deliberate on issues and topics of mutual benefits to the seed system.
Ojo said the SeedConnect Africa over the years gave way to the introduction of the Plant Variety Protection (PVP Act 2021) Law in Nigeria.
He said this journey started fully in 2018 shortly after the first edition of SeedConnect Africa, adding that today, the apart from Nigeria having a PVP Act, it was making efforts to complete the Nigerian membership of the International Union of Protection of New Plant Variety.
“We are currently doing a lot to operationalize this law. We have begun the process of setting up the PVP office, and currently we have a draft regulation that was reviewed and validated by experts”, Ojo said.
He said the second achievement by the SeedConnect was the amendment of the NASC Seed Act, with the introduction of stiffer penalties and solid foundations for the introduction of technologies to police the seed industry.
“With our collaboration with the Nigerian Securities and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), we have been able to scale up the seed market surveillance and enforcement of standards because we need to sanitize the Nigerian seed industry”, he said.
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