By Adelola Amihere
In a move to accurately identify monitor , report and measure the turnover in the adoption of improved seed varieties by farmers of which its misidentification could have several implications for both adoption of improved technology, planting, policy formulation for food security and also for regulatory activities, the National Agricultural Seeds Council, NASC has constituted a National Executive Steering Committee for the institutionalizing Monitoring of Crop Variety Adoption Using Genotyping (IMAGE) Program that will oversee its implementation in Nigeria.
The IIMAGE program is a five- year program led by country teams in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia supported by Context Global Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the aim of establishing institutionlising and scaling routine monitoring of improved variety adoption and turnover using genotyping in Nigeria.
Giving his remarks during the physical launch and constitution of the committee in Abuja yesterday, the Director General, NASC, Dr Philip Ojo pointed out that the launch of the program marked the the end project proposal formulation phase which started in Naiobi, Kenya in December 2019.
He said, ”Today equally marks the beginning of a new era in adoption of improved variety monitoring and reporting, the beginning of the process that will drive us through the much-needed shift from our traditional and largely inaccurate methodology for measuring farmer adoption of improved variety and how varieties turnover through time.
“Over time, studies of improved seed adoption in Nigeria are almost based on household surveys and are premised on the assumption that a farmer can accurately self-report their use of improved seed varieties. However, many studies have shown that farmers report of seed varieties planted, or whether the seed is improved or local are sometimes inconsistent with the DNA fingerprinting results of these varieties.”
While expressing gratitude to Bill and Melinda gates foundation, Dr Ojo stated that their support will help in no small measure towards accurate and targeted policy formulation regarding the utilization of seeds in Nigeria.
“We expect that the IMAGE project will provide insights and evidence for seed sector actors to enhance government agency capacity, improve stakeholders’ coordination, and lead to better investment & resource allocation decisions for varietal development and commercialization in Nigeria.,” he added
In his presentation detailing the methodologies and components of the IMAGE program, Senior Agric officer, NASC Charles Onwuka explained that adoption monitoring using genotyping is a new method of monitoring that is accurate and effective.
“Part of the first things we will do is to create a reference library where we have their genetic markers of all these materials. So, when we go to the field to ask the farmers if they have adopted, then we can pick the materials from their farm and genotype them and cross match these genotypes with the reference library and see the farmers have accurately reported.
“When a farmer says this is farrow 44, we cross match the genetic component of this with what is in the reference library to say, Okay, here’s what this farmer has reported and is actually what it is,” he stated.
The program scope is focoused on three partner countries– Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia with Nigeria having maize, cassava, Cowpea and Rice as focus point crops.