By Adelola Amihere
Worried that the paucity of funds may hinder the National Agricultural Seed Council, NASC from effectively carrying out its mandate of sanitizing the seed sector,the Board of NASC has called on the federal government to allocate 50% of the levies on sugar, wheat rice etc to the Council and Research institutes in the country.
Ibrahim Musa who spoke on behalf of the NASC Board stated this yesterday at the Review and Validation workshop of the National Agricultural Seed Council, NASC Strategic document and operational plan for the Nigerian Seed industry in Abuja .
Musa opined that this was the best way to increase funding for the council if government is serious about shifting dependence on an oil based economy to agriculture.
He said,”if the seed council is to work, there must be finances. Budgetary allocation is so small it cannot afford the council to go out to all parts of the country to enforce the compliance of Its Act. We have 36 states including the FCT and in each state, we have a Director or Seed inspector who is supposed to visit every farm to see that what they farm are seeds and not grains .
“The board looked round and we have seen that there are some levies that are being raised for certain agricultural sector. If you develop the wheat industry and you don’t have quality seeds , how do you produce wheat for the flour mills in the country.
“For example in 2018, there was this rice levy which the custom collected and the collected about 38b . this is for the development of the rice sector because there was a limit in d importation of rice
so we are appealing o the FG to make sure that from this amount certain percentage is given to the seed council and we advocate 50%.
” We have also wheat grains. The levy collected for wheat grains in 2014 was N84, 400, 940, 814billion. where do they get the seeds to produce wheat? why should we import the wheat ?why don’t we develop the wheat seeds and produce the seeds in this country. we have vast land and Human Resources to do this.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, the DG NASC, Dr Philip Ojo who gave a brief account of the journey leading to the workshop explained that without a comprehensive policy direction, the seed Council, as the apex regulatory body of Nigeria’s seed sector and vehicle for the implementation of the National Seed Policy in Nigeria is poised to face serious challenges in achieving its mandate.
The aim of the review and validation workshop was to bring all stakeholders together to close up all the loose ends in order to harmonise and perfect the draft 5- year strategic plan document for the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) into a final document aimed at providing the strategic direction for NASC that will strengthen its capacity to discharge its responsibilities in coordinating and regulating the Nigerian Seed industry for the next five years.
He pointed out that the task given to SAHEL Group in developing the document was specifically to “conduct an organizational purpose alignment exercise to evaluate NASC’s vision and mission statements and core values and also develop clear objectives that amplifies what ultimate success implies as a national Seed industry regulator.
“Conduct a detailed SWOT Analysis and capacity needs assessment to identify the gaps existing within NASC and other external factors limiting the Council from achieving its objectives as well as conduct a benchmark analysis to identify successful national seed programs and regulators globally to gain insights on effective policies and models that can be adapted for NASC.”
The DG therefore charged stakeholders to come up with suggestions and meaningful discussions that will significantly transform the draft plan to a substantive actual plan for the country.