Quality Seeds: Farmers call for full Implementation of NASC Act

Sequel to the recent signing of the National gricultural Seeds Council (NASC) Amendment Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari into law,  the National Agricultural Seeds Advocacy Group (NASAG) during the week, in Abuja, played host to farmers’ associations, cooperatives, the civil society and other critical stakeholders to map out the way forward for the nation’s agricultural sector.

The participants who were drawn from the three states of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and the FCT, among other things, reviewed engagements in the last quarter, results and challenges therefrom and developed a framework for tracking outcomes of advocacy, visa-vis improvement level so far of farmers’ access to  quality seeds,  with special emphasis on timely implementations of recommendations from NASAG’s dialogue with farmers.

Representatives of the three states of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) took turns to outline the inroads they have made in the period under review, while identifying the tasks ahead.

Although the synergy between seed companies and farmers in Jigawa, remains a huge challenge, a farmer policy dialogue in the 27 local government in the state is on the cards towards ensuring that the farmers have unfettered and timely access to quality seeds. In addition, a seed calendar designed to tackle the issue of timeliness in accessing agricultural inputs has been adapted in the state.

Similarly, members of NASAG from Kaduna state disclosed that an advocacy brief was already in place but the disqualification of the Agriculture Commissioner nominee in the state, has regrettably led to a lull in the ministry. However, non state actors have demonstrated their willingness to engage in the formulation of a new agricultural policy, having identified gaps in the existing policy and sector implementation plans which they said have not made the desired impact.

Kano  NASAG members on their part, have been able to establish a good rapport with the state government with a constituted committee already in place; comprising government officials and farmers, which has the state’s Permanent Secretary of the Agriculture ministry as chairman.

Realizing that most of the farmers are yet to access quality seeds from government, NASAG members in the state told the meeting that plans were afoot to ensure that the seed calendar is incorporated with the government’s agricultural policy, as 24 tractors have since been procured by farmers with the assistance of the state government to boost agricultural productivity.

National Coordinator of National Agricultural Seeds Advocacy Group (NASAG),  Mr Celestine Okeke told Cubinks in an exclusive interview shortly after the engagement that the group is working round the clock to see that farmers in Nigeria have unfettered and timely access to quality seeds in accordance with global best practices.

While regretting that there is no clear cut policy direction in the nation’s agricultural sector  for long term development plan in the sector, Okeke urged the authorities in the sector to discountenance the current practice of using consultants in designing short term measures and improve the capacity of government officials who should in turn design long term development plans for the sector.

“Agricultural promotion policies must be in-depth, forward-looking and down-to-earth. Such policies can only succeed if they are long term and result-oriented”, Okeke remarked.

Federal Team Leader of Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL-EPC), Mr Greg Anyaegbudike, who supported the one-day engagement expressed delight over the enthusiasm demonstrated by participants and urged them not to relent in the campaign to ensure that farmers in the country not only have access to quality seeds but are provided with the right inputs for improved yield and productivity.

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