By Adelola Amihere
In its effort to improve the seed system towards achieving a sustainable food and nutritional security for the country., the National Agriculture Seeds Council (NASC), has commenced sensitisation on operations and uses of the ‘National Seed Tracker’
Speaking at the training in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State recently , the Director General, NASC, Dr Phillip Ojo, said it has become mandatory for all that is involved in seed production, processing and marketing to be accredited to perform its responsibilities.
Ojo who called on Certification Officers not to truncate the process, urged seed companies to leverage on it and expand their frontiers in local and international seed trade.
He explained that the seed tracker which has been designed to fit the needs of local farmers, has the potential to transform the National Seed system, improve farmers revenue and uplift their social economics status.
On how the App works, Ojo said it will provide real time information on seed variety, quantity, availability, facilitates trade decisions and timely access to seed markets.
While highlighting the place of improved seedling in agricultural value chain, he said private and international agencies engaging in programs of production, distribution of seeds must get concurrence of NASC and involve them from the planning stages.
On penalty for adulterated seed dealers, he highlighted on modification of penalty for infringements to ensure that it is severe enough to serve as a deterrent such as imprisonment for one year or a fine of one million naira for first offender and two million naira for previous offender.
“It is my belief that the National Seed tracker program would help the Seed system in many ways as it would digitally connect, seed producers, seed traders, and seed quality control officers.
“The battle to rid the seed space of unscrupulous seed merchants whose only motive is to short-change our farmers by supplying poor quality planting materials is a priority of the NASC to increase yield among other benefits.
“No persons can engage in any seed related activity in Nigeria without the accreditation by the NASC as stated in Section 20,” he averred.
The Director General earlier informed that President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the National Agricultural seeds Act, the most important authority for NASC to use for its regulatory responsibilities.
He expressed hope that with the national agricultural seed bill of 2019, the seed industry will experience new reforms to continually position NASC as a hub of seed for the region, allowing for international best practices as leaders of seed industry in west Africa, producing over 60 percent of seeds used in the sub-region.
Furthermore, he said with the new national agricultural seed bill of 2019 in place, NASC can conveniently operate with the current dynamics in global seed trade and create a better conducive atmosphere for private sector participation in the nations seed industry.
Mrs Romoke Akande, a certification officer from Northwest Zone, said the transition from the analogue to electronic certification of seeds would enable easy monitoring of seeds to the source by the council and farmers.
She said farmers with the help of the seed tracker will be able to discern adulterated seeds from anywhere in the world electronically.
The three-day Sensitisation and Training Workshop on operations and uses of ‘National Seed Tracker’ themed: New Methods in Seed Certification and Quality Assurance, had seed Certification, Quality Control Officers and stakeholders in agricultural value chain in attendance.