• As adulterators risk N2m fine
To help farmers detect fake and adulterated seeds for maximum yield and national food sufficiency, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) said it has introduced digital coding and labelling of certified seeds (SeedCodex) to help farmers sift good seeds from fake ones in the market.
Director-General of NASC, Dr Olusegun Ojo, who spoke with some journalists in Abuja at the weekend said the electronic verification and authentication system launched two months ago will be available from the 2020 early planting season.
According to him, SeedCodex involves sending digital codes hidden under a scratchable veneer on the seed pack, to appropriate telephone line.
He noted that the introduction of technology into seed production and regulation will bring transparency into the seed supply chain and expose sharp practices by certified producers.
Ojo explained that NASC was in partnership with various organizations state and non-state organisations to ensure that quality seeds are available to farmers.
The Council currently has 314 seed production companies on its accreditation list while the application of 200 others were being processed.
With the signing of its amendment Act recently, unregistered and adulterators of seeds in the country now risk six months’ jail sentence or N1 million fine as a first offender and a doubling of the punishment for second offenders.
Section 19 of the Act makes it a criminal offence for any seeds dealer to market any seed in the country without certification by the Council.
The seed expert explained that the Council had trained seed certification officers as well as inaugurated Seed Committees across the states and oriented the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) personnel for the purposes of ensuring that sub-standard seeds are eliminated in the seed industry.
While canvassing that his council be consulted when intervention programmes were being implemented in the agricultural sector so that it could supply a list of certified producers, Ojo said the increase in yield per hectare, and land expansion, are two factors that determine agricultural growth.
“In Nigeria however, land expansion has remained the key driver of growth. Yield per hectare has been low due to low use of high-quality input particularly seeds. So a simple tool that can transform agricultural productivity significantly at very minimal cost is the utilization of good quality seeds.”
“This is important to us because we appreciate that seed quality is crucial to having quality crops from our farmers for feeding, processing for local and global markets,” the NASC boss added.
Ojo said his council was making efforts to ensure that Nigeria got the global seed map benefit from the multibillion dollar seed economy.
“We are currently making efforts to be a strong nation in the World Seed Partnership and that is why we are seriously doing all to become member of bodies such as the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plant (UPOV), the Seed Scheme of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Seed Federation (ISF), the Africa Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), AfricaSeeds etc.