Farmers to access 81,000mt certified seed
Amidst the glooming effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria’s food production, the National Agricultural Seed Council, (NASC), has disclosed plans to ensure farmers accessed about 81,000 metric tonnes of certified seeds available through its accredited seed companies, in preparation for the 2020 planting season.
The certified seeds available include 30,000mt of rice, 4000mt of maize hybrid, 3000mt of sorghum, 4000mt of soybean, 1500mt of cowpea, 550mt of millet, 6000mt of groundnut, 2,500mt of wheat, 40,000mt of sesame, and a host of others.
NASC Director-General, Dr Philip Ojo, during a virtual press conference, yesterday, acknowledged that companies are having challenges accessing certified seeds to farmers due to inter-state restriction of movement due to the COVID-19.
He however assured that the Council is working with various stakeholders to implement various coping actions that would help the sector to continue to function even in the midst of the crisis.
He highlighted the actions to include; structuring seed trade and agro-inputs in designated markets and on specific days, while complying with social distancing direction of relevant government agencies at the local, state and federal levels.
He explained that it would be done using a decentralised model for organising the markets that allows quality seed and agro-inputs to be transported close to farmers, and thus reduce the distance that farmers need to travel to access inputs.
Ojo said they also intend to create seed sector task forces at federal, state and local government levels to regularly review the interstate movement of essential agricultural goods and services, and provide guidance on measures to be taken to responsible authorities
He said: “As the industry is preparing to push this quantity of certified seeds to the market, companies, like every farmer, are also preparing to go to their fields to plant so that we can have adequate quantities of seeds for the next cropping season.”
While commending the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for its efforts in ensuring the free movement of food and agricultural inputs across the country, he however noted that bottlenecks were still being experienced.
“Among many operations and services, the COVID-19 government measures on mobility has negatively impacted on the movement of seed companies and farmers to point of sales/agro-dealers, to informal markets, also negatively impacted is the production and supply of early generation seed and more importantly the quality assurance activities including seed field inspection and laboratory testing.”
He said the Council would further advocate and raise awareness to ensure that the services and business of seed companies and agro-input dealers are designated as essential, with a view to communicating widely their role as essential to food security and the national economy through all traditional and social media platforms.
This awareness will target, and specifically tailored to, security and other law enforcement agencies to enable the effective inter- and intrastate movement of seed and other agro-inputs.
Speaking further, Ojo noted that the effects of the COVID–19 have brought to the fore the importance of Agriculture to the nation’s sustainability as well as the huge responsibility placed on the farmers across the globe.
He stressed the urgent need to replace depleted food stock as a result of the massive purchase and consumption, which can only achieved through high quality seed.
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