The Federal Government has announced the development of a five-year strategic plan to drive the seed sector and ensure proper coordination of activities aimed at transforming the seed industry to serve as the bedrock of agricultural transformation for Nigeria.
Mohammed Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, announced this on Wednesday at the fifth session of the West Africa Regional Seeds and Seedling Committee (WARSSC/CRSPAO) held in Abuja.
Nanono, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mohammed Bello Umar, said in no distant time the implementation of the strategic plan will transform into a regional hub for seed industry capacity development.
With the signing into law of the National Agricultural Seeds Council Act, 2019, by President Muhammadu Buhari, he assured it would further strengthen the efforts to make the Nigerian Seed System a leading light in the African Seed space.
Commenting on other areas innovations have been introduced to revolutionize the seed sector, Nanono said, “We have also adopted the use of technology in the seed system with the introduction of a national seed tracker and a turnkey electronic seed certification authentication system called the SEEDCODEX.
“These innovations are to enhance traceability, tracking and removal of counterfeiting and faking in the seed space.
“We are also making an effort to introduce a law for plant variety protection and become a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plant (UPOV).
“In the same vein, we are enhancing our capacity for seed testing as we are now a member of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and have moved from visual to diagnostic certification with the establishment of our molecular diagnostic laboratory in our head office in Sheda.
“In few years to come, Nigeria will transform to become a regional hub for seed industry capacity development as we are doing everything to position the NASC office complex to become a centre of excellence for seed sector development in West Africa where we will provide capacity development programmes and other services for our sister countries.”
Also speaking, Director General of National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Dr Olusegun Philip Ojo, said Nigeria is the bigger seed producer in the West African sub-region, adding that Nigeria has about 340 seed companies.
Ojo underscored the need for Nigeria to take advantage of the vast seed market in West Africa and advocated for the removal of all barriers on the paths of trade.
In his remarks, ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources and Environment, Mr Sekou Sangare, pointed out that the foundation of high agricultural productivity is dependent on the quality of seeds used in planting.
Tasking all West African countries to prioritise the feeding of their citizens, Sangare called on the private sector to invest in the seed sector to meet the farmers’ needs.
The fifth statutory meeting of the WARSSC was organized by CORAF and funded by UEMOA Commission and USAID through the partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development (PAIRED) programme.