The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has started a transition from the analogue to electronic certification of seeds, its Director-General, Olusegun Ojo, has said .
Mr Ojo said this on Monday at the second edition of the Seed ConnectAfrica 2019 in Abuja.
He said e-certification will enable easy monitoring of seeds to the source by the council and farmers.
The event, which has the theme, Enhancing the Potential of the Nigerian Seed Industry, is aimed at building a stronger seed sector in Nigeria and Africa.
The first edition was organised in 2018 as a starting point to raise awareness about certain issues in the seed industry.
Mr Ojo said farmers with the help of the seed tracker will be able to discern adulterated seeds from anywhere in the world electronically.
“With the increased efficiency in seed production, there is a need to go electronic,” he said.
The first seed tracker was developed and piloted for cassava as Cassava Seed Tracker (CST), in collaboration International Institue of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). CST is a web App for real-time tracking of seed production.
” After the 2018 Seed Connect, the quality of seed has improved and a lot of infrastructural development has taken place. And with the 34 million of arable land available, it makes the demand for seed production to increase, with the value estimated to be N284billion by 2050,” he said.
He said a lot of players are coming into the seed industry due to the large potentials which have opened the door to the large and medium seed enterprises.
Mr Ojo said despite the large volume of the production of seeds, 72,000 tonnes of seven major crops were produced in Nigeria against a demand of 420,000 tonnes.
“What we are producing is not up to the requirement of what is needed by the seed sector, which means the gaps are there and that many seed enterprises need to come on board,” he said.
Mr Ojo said fake seeds have reduced in the market by 81 per cent from 2012 to 2016.
“We have made it possible that we are always on ground, which has made us able to situate our seed molecular on the ground,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu, said the bill for Seed Act has been passed but awaits the assent of President Muhammed Buhari.
Speaking through his representative, Munir Babagana, the lawmaker said the committee is working hard to ensure that the bill is signed before the end of the 8th Assembly.
He said the committee will expand its participation in the ECOWAS Committee to promote seed business in West Africa.
“We will try to expand our participation in the ECOWAS Committee to promote seed business in West Africa, I understand the market is huge,” he said
On his part, President of Seed Entrepreneur Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), Richard Olafare, said his association has produced over 100,000 tonnes of seed for Nigerians to ensure food security.
“The association started modestly with the capacity to produce about 5000 metric tonnes about 12 years ago, but we can produce 100,000 tonnes now,” he said
He said since 2003, the association has been able to supply improved seeds to farmers and support sister countries in West Africa like Ghana.
Mr Olafare said they have also exported high-quality seeds and recycled seeds to countries like The Gambia.
The Director of Training and Assistance at the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), Yolanda Huerta, said sustainable agriculture depends on plant breeding to produce varieties of plants with improved quality.
She said agriculture is faced with a lot of challenges such as a growing population, climatic change and evolving food needs.
Ms Huerta said innovation in agriculture is important for economic development in the rural sector. “It will provide employment and income for hundreds of thousands,” she said.