Rural farmers do not have access to quality seeds to improve farm yield in Nigeria because most of the 300 seed companies and 50 seed inspectors in the country are not functioning.
A seed expert, Sadi Dansadau, said this in an interview with Premium Times on Thursday.
He said only about 75 seed companies are functioning in Nigeria, while the seed inspectors do not make an adequate impact on the farmers.
“Each local government in Nigeria should have at least one seed inspector. But looking at the number of inspectors, a state does not even have up to two inspectors,” he said.
Documents obtained from The African Seed Access Index (TASAI) disclosed that 156 companies were active in 2017 but the number increased to 300 in 2019.
A good number of the companies produce rice and maize seeds.
TASAI on Thursday organised a workshop for experts in the seed industry in Abuja.
It monitors indicators that are essential to seed sector development at the national level in Sub-Saharan African countries.
The high number of rice seed companies is partly driven by a government initiative to support rice production in Nigeria and reduce food imports.
Most of the seed companies have small production capacity.
The organisation said Nigeria has the highest number of seed industries in Africa, yet it has the lowest ratio of impact among countries.
Meanwhile, a professor of Agriculture at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Emmanuel Ikaru, said the seed companies have grown but still have a big role to play in the agricultural sector.
He said since the establishment of the seed industry, the Nigerian government has failed to support them due to changing government policies.
“Farmers need to be aware of quality seeds in Nigeria,” he said.
He said efforts were being made to use technology to create the awareness.
“Many Nigerians have access to mobile phones. We currently have farmers’ helplines to assist farmers with any information,” he said.
On his part, an official of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Folarin Okelola, said the council has made efforts to combat fake seeds in the country.
He, however, said the agency cannot compel the companies to function because it is their “civil right.”
“All we have to do is to close them down when they do not function for a long time,” he said.
For the inspectors, he said the government only employs the number of staff it can pay.
“Based on resources, the company may not be able to have more staff, although we have officers attached to each company,” he said.
The NASC is in charge of the overall development and regulation of the national seed industry.
It introduced SEEDCODEX, new seed, inspection unit, Farmer awareness and e- authentication as efforts to combat fake seeds in the country.