By Adelola Amihere
The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has expressed concern over the flow of fake seeds into the Nigerian agricultural market while announcing a new plan to leverage technology to assist farmers and the industry in combating the menace of fake seeds, through its proposed implementation of a new authentication tool known as SEEDCODEX.
Speaking at a meeting with relevant stakeholders and partners on Friday, the Director-General of the Council, Dr. Olusegun Philip Ojo, stated that the SEEDCODEX will be an upgrade on the
Council’s previous authentication technique that proved to be inefficient over time.
“Our past method included two certification tags; one outside and one inside. However, since the seeds constantly changed hands, there was wear and tear. We have now decided to introduce cards with aluminum panels attached to the container, which when scratched, reveals a number that when sent to our helpline, 1393, would inform the purchaser on the content of the container – the producer, where it was produced and other necessary details,” he said.
Dr. Olusegun Ojo who addressed and thanked partners of the program especially the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) represented by its Program Officer: Policy and Partnerships with AGRA, Nigeria Country Office, Dr. Thomas Arokoyo, also called for further support as the Council continues in its relentless efforts in making Nigeria a leading producer of quality seeds.
“We are working hard. So far, we have several cases in court against people who created fake packaging materials. We are working to widen our rich following the 2019 Seeds Bill signed by President Muhmammadu Buhari.”
Similarly, Dr. Isiyak Khalid, Director Seed Certification and Quality Control, NASC, described the SEEDCODEX plan as a tool and opportunity that places the power in the hand of farmers. Citing the limited amount of original products as well as limited resources, he revealed that the meeting was organized as a way to “explain the process to stakeholders how everything will be operated, and the roles each could play to ensure it runs smoothly. We are trying to take stakeholder along.
He also acknowledged the improvement in seed certification which used to be much more draining in the past.
Finally, Okelola Sunday Folarin, Technical Adviser to the Director-General and the project lead for the AGRA EGS project, explained that the aluminum paneled cards are impervious to
environmental damage and difficult to fake which is key in restoring farmers’ confidence in the system.