National Agricultural Seed Council To Explore Technology To Enhance Food Sufficiency
The National Agricultural seed council, NASC, says plan has been concluded to use technology to leverage improved quality seed for farmers.
Director General of the council, Dr Phillip Olusegun Ojo made this known in an interview with radio Nigeria in Abuja.
Dr. Ojo explained that the essence of the plan is not only to sustain food sufficiency in-country but also enhance agricultural produce for exports and position Nigeria as the seed hub of Africa.
He said the country already accounts for about seventy per cent of the seeds used in West Africa.
The NASC boss explained that recently the council partner the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan on seed trackers for smart farming in Nigeria.
The seed trackers are Cassava Seed Tracker, Yam Seed Tracker, IITA Akilimo, IITA GO seed tracker and IITA herbicide calculator for weed free-fields.
The seed tracker was a comprehensive Web App for seed value chain integration and management which offered digital data collection tools usable on any internet enabled devices, online and offline, offered customised individual and group accounts, a database with analytics tools.
“The seed tracker could cover all stages of seed value chain and “is useful to all stakeholders including traders and farmers” Ojo stressed
He said that it would support seed production planning, seed traceability, seed inventory, real-time tracking of production status, seed certification, marketing, information resources, among others.
Dr Ojo said the NASC seed tracker could help manage all the seed production activities including seed company registration, field registration and communication with NASC.
He said that registered users could get a secure account for managing quality assurance and seed certification operations.
According to Dr Ojo, a lot of programs have been embarked on to take the Council out of the woods to become the champion of West Africa’s seed value chain.
He listed the factors that have driven rapid progress in the affairs of the Council to include a Governing Board that is very supportive and cooperative, public-private sector partnership initiatives, local and international collaborations, adoption of state-of-the-art technologies in the seed industry and the enactment of a new seed law.
“Although funding has been a challenge for the industry, the Council has been able to tackle the problems through partnerships with stakeholders, both national and international, to achieve its goals. “Ojo noted
Thr NASC DG said partnerships and collaborations have actually assisted council in achieving its mandate and also building the capacity of some of staff to meet international best practices at some of the best institutions in the United Kingdom.
He added that the Council has been further empowered with the enactment of the NASC Act 2019, in line with changing trends in the global seed industry.
Under the Act, seed offenders face stiff penalty unlike in the past when the law was very lenient.
He said: “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 has been added; one major issue is that of doing the wrong thing in the seed industry because in any other professional business, there are also fraudulent and deceitful people as well as regulation that should not be broken.
“The penalties in the Seed Act before were very minimal, example; if anybody runs foul of the law in the old Act, he or she was to pay a fine of fifty thousand naira for a first time offender, one hundred thousand naira for a repeat offender as well as a jail time of six months.
“Under this new Act, if the first time offender is found guilty he or she will pay one million naira and a jail time of one year, while a repeat offender would pay two million naira and a jail time of two years.”To enhance its efficiency,
BY GEORGINA HUMPHREY/ABUJA