Farmers in Nigeria and critical stakeholders in the nation’s agricultural sector have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the National Agricultural Seeds Council(NASC) Amendment Bill, towards taking agriculture to the next level in the country.
Speaking during the week, at a one-day strategy session in Abuja, put together by the National Agricultural Seeds Advocacy Group (NASAG) in collaboration with Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn(PERL-ECP),
NASC’s Director-General, Dr Olusegun Ojo, said the call for the president to sign the Seed Bill became necessary because access to quality seeds of improved crop variety would no doubt go a long way in enhancing and sustaining agricultural productivity and food security to compliment the on-going efforts by the Buhari administration to diversify the economy.
“The general decline in growth rate of agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) from 4.27% in 2014 to 3.72% in 2015 also impacted on the decline in certified seed production from 178,039 metric tonnes produced in 2014 to 123,597 metric tonnes recorded in 2015”, Dr Ojo stated, explaining that the decline could be attributed to farmer’s inability to access quality seeds.
While maintaining that for the council to effectively sanitize the seed industry and rid the market of the sale of fake, adulterated and poor quality seeds, the NASC Amendment Bill currently awaiting the president’s assent, when signed into law, would streamline and strengthen the sector for accelerated economic growth, the DG commended the efforts of stakeholders and development partners for the sustained quality seeds campaign in the country.
Also speaking at the event, an official of the council, Mr Charles Onwuka jr. regretted that despite Nigeria’s acclaimed position as the giant of Africa, it was still not among the top ten African countries which are food secured on the continent. He contended that lack of access to quality seeds remains one the greatest setbacks to farmers in the country.
The Seed Bill when passed into law shall among other things, empower the council to:
effectively analyze and formulate programs, policies and actions regarding seed development and the seed industry in general, including research on issues relating to seed testing, registration, release, production, marketing, distribution, certification, quality control supply and use of seeds in Nigeria, importation and exportation of seeds; design improved management system and procedure relating to administration of seed activity; and approve policies and strategies to protect small seed producers, local varieties and to promote quality seed production as the case may be.
At the end of the engagement stakeholders agreed and adopted actionable strategies, developed an advocacy brief and launched the social media campaign with the hashtag #SignSeedsBill.