National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to train thousands of community based Seed entrepreneurs as part of efforts to improve seed production and marketing in four north east States of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe.
The project, funded by USAID, will involve training and supporting 2250 seed producers to become Community Based Seed Entrepreneurs (CBSE) in the four intervention states and facilitating the formation of these CBSE into 150 community based Seed enterprises cooperatives.
Speaking during the signing ceremony at the NASC headquarters in Abuja which happened to be his last official duty before exiting the Council as the Director General, Dr. Olusegun Philip Ojo, said the Council is responsible for ensuring that farmers have good quality seeds and that the Council works with several partners.
“And most of the innovations and technology introduced in the seed industry were done in collaboration with organisations like yours. So when the idea of partnering with IITA came, we were happy to embrace it. We want to continue to expand our collaborators and partners because we are positioning the Council as centre of excellence for seed industry in West Africa.
“For your information, Nigeria produces over 50% of good quality seeds in West Africa and we have become force of a sort when it comes to seed production. So now we get several references from organisations to come to us for the seed they need.
“IITA has been a good partner as we have been able to partner on several projects such as seed codex, among other. The community seed project is very dear to our hearts because, the seed companies alone cannot take care of all the seed needs of farmers and the need to ensure that farmers at the downstream and local level have access to the best of genetics, that is what the programme is addressing, especially in the north,and seed is a game changer in agriculture, it would be good if the project can be replicated across the country to make seed available for the farmers at the grassroots,” he said.
Also speaking, before signing the MoU, IITA Chief of Party, Prakash Kant Silwal, said through its Northeast Regional Office, it has collaborated with the activity in training 1,937 Community Based Seed Producers on improved seed production and marketing techniques in Adamawa and Borno States between 2020 and 2022.
He said the organisation has also monitored the seed fields of these CBSPs and provided the needed support and guidance, tested the samples of the seeds produced by the CBSPs at its Seed laboratory in Gombe.
“Attended the annual Agricultural inputs Fair organized by the Activity to create necessary awareness for the smallholder farmers on the need to plant certified seeds instead of grains.
“All the above have significantly increased the use of certified seeds by smallholder farmers in intervention communities and resulted in an increase in yield and income.
“Scaling up of interventions in seed system development: Recently, our donor (USAID) expanded the scope of the Activity to scale-up interventions in seed system development in the existing states (Borno and Adamawa and expand into Gombe and Yobe states). This will involve supporting 2,250 seed producers to become Community Based Seed Entrepreneurs (CBSE) in the four intervention states and facilitating the formation of these CBSEs into 150 community-based seed enterprises cooperatives.
“In achieving this, the Activity still needs the continuous support of NASC as contained in the MOU that we are signing today.
“I am happy to announce that this is already happening as the activity and NASC Officials are currently organizing training for the selected 2,250 CBSP in improved seed production and marketing techniques across the four intervention states of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe. Other activities will follow suit,” he explains.
Seed Council trains, producers, others on new technology
As part of efforts to build and sustain a market oriented private sector driven seed industry for the production and distribution of high-quality seeds in Nigeria, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has trained over 60 seed producers and other stakeholders in the sector on new multiplication technology.
The stakeholders were also trained on the rudiments of quality seed production, processing, storage and handling; and enlightenment on the existing seed rules and regulations as enshrined in the new National Agricultural Seeds Council Act No 21 of 2019 to enable them operate within the confines of the law while producing and marketing seeds.
Addressing the participants during the training workshop in Abuja on Thursday, the Director General, Dr. Olusegun Ojo, said NASC has the mandate for training stakeholders especially the Seed Producers in the Nigerian seed industry to divulge the requisite knowledge and skills for quality seed production.
“This also extend to the Agro-dealers who are the middlemen for marketing and distribution of seeds produced to the end users to ensure proper handling of the seeds in their various stores to minimize damages on traded seed and maintain viability.
“Seed production is a specialized activity that requires high technical skills, and this cannot be acquired without training to impart the requisite knowledge and techniques in seed production which of course include all the production activities that take place on the field, as well as handling the seed during harvesting, processing, storage and distribution.
“It is for this course that we have gathered you here to be trained on the rudiments of quality seed production, processing, storage and handling; and enlighten you on the existing seed rules and regulations as enshrined in the new National Agricultural Seeds Council Act No 21 of 2019 to enable you operate within the confines of the law while producing and marketing seeds for your respective seed companies,” he said
Also, the Director, Seed Coordination and Management, Mr. Zidafamor Ebiarade Jimmy, training the participants, said the training is to enhance the ability of stakeholders in the seed sector to produce quality seeds using new technology.
He said the council is carrying everyone in the sector across the value chains along, saying the responsibility of seed quality does not rest on the scientist alone but on all in the sector.
“One of the challenges we have with seed production in Nigeria is not only in the production but in handling too, remembers that seed is a living entity, hence the storage is very importance as some farmers store their seeds with chemicals, kerosene, cements in their stores or in their boot of their cars packed in the sun and in the process kill the seeds.
“Sometimes, seed not germinating may not be the fault of the producers, but from the farmers’ handling of the seed before planting. That is while the training is for all stakeholders, so they can understand how to handle seeds as a living entity.
Also, one of the facilitator and former Director, Seeds Inspectorate in the Council Mr. Bayo Agboola, urged the participants to ensure they sell certified seeds to farmers.
He went further toe explain some activities in the sector that constitute infringement and offences and the penalties. This is even as he encourages whistleblowing against such infringement.
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