Participants at a strategic session on advocacy for the president’s assent to the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the NASC Bill to enable farmers to have access to quality seeds.
The event was organised by the National Agricultural Seeds Advocacy Group (NASAG) on Tuesday in Abuja.
Celestial Okeke, the National Coordinator of NASAG, said a speedy assent to the bill would boost food production in the country.
“We are here with other stakeholders asking Mr President to quickly sign the seed bill from NASC so that the council can have more power and authority to regulate seed activities in Nigeria.
“The bill is important because without seed you cannot do agriculture. In Nigeria, the law bill used by NASC to regulate seed activity is outdated and the penalties for defaulters are not stringent.
“So, we have several seed companies provide fake seed and sell to farmers and this has been affecting the productivity for farmers, especially low yield which has impacted our food security in Nigeria.’’
Mr Okeke said the aim of the group in partnership with seed council was not just to have the bill passed but also working with the NASC to see how to improve on its internal processing to make the bill work well
“We will work with seed council to make sure it improves its responsibility.
“The bill has already been transmitted to Mr President and we will continue to mount pressure on him to sign the bill.
“We have activities going on offline and online to make sure this bill is signed before the end of this administration,’’ he said.
Daniel Okafor, the National President, Potato Farmers Association of Nigeria (POFAN), commended NASAG and other stakeholders for their efforts on the bill because farmers needed improved seed to be in the next level.
“We are advocating to Mr President to sign the bill because it is very important for a farmer to get improved and very nutritional seeds as the country is diversifying to agriculture.
“The farmers need quality seeds and everybody needs to make sure it happens because what we are talking about is implementation, we need to work together and report any company that produce adulterated seeds to NASC.
“We farmers need the bill to be signed because when we are talking about out-growers, small-scale seed farmers, farmers should get their own seed through NASC.
“The bill is important to farmers and we are now saying Mr President should sign the bill so that farmers will move to next level, according to him,’’ he said.
Simon Irtwange, the National President, National Association of Yam Farmers, processors and Marketers, said that the bill “is very important because it gives direction to seed system in Nigeria.’’
“There is a lot of issues in the seed system and the main important issue in any agricultural activity is seed.
“For instance, we have looked into the economic implication of yam per hectare, it will cost the farmer N1.5million and out of this money N800, 000 is for seeds.
“You can see the importance of that component into any agricultural production activities.
“You cannot play with the quality of what you are putting in the soil and what this does is to ensure that farmers have quality seeds to be able to plant to increase yields and revenue.’’
Mr Irtwange added that the bill would bring sanity in the agriculture because “the old bill says if you commit seed offence, you will pay N500, meaning you can continue committing the offence and pay N500’’.
“Under the new law, it says any seed company that brings into the market any adulterated seed or sell grain as seed will pay N1 million and this will make people to be very careful.
“We are expecting Mr President to sign this bill now because if he does not, it means we are going to go back to stage zero at ninth National Assembly.”
The bill, according to the stakeholders, when implemented will generate revenue worth billions of naira for the government through the council.
The bill is among many others passed by the National Assembly but which President Buhari is yet to assent to.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the president is yet to assent to other approved bills like that which strengthens the auditor-general’s office and the petroleum industry governance bill.