By Mohammed Kandi
The Federal Government drive towards enhancing the country’s agriculture sector via sustained private sector involvement has received a major boost, as commercial bank lending to seed companies operating in Nigeria rise to N6 billion for the year 2014.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who was represented by his Senior Technical Adviser, Dr. Martins Fregene, disclosed this at the National Seed Retreat organized by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) recently in Abuja.
He said: “The Federal Government through the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending [NIRSAL] provided credit guarantee for the seed companies to access financial lending from commercial banks in Nigeria, which had brought about a rise in the lending from N1.8 billion in 2012, 4.2 billion in 2013 to over N6 billion in 2014.”
The minister also stated that the value of seed redeemed by farmers from the seed supplied by the seed companies under the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) increased from about N5.4 billion in 2012 to 10.4billion in 2013.
“Also prior to the introduction of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the present administration, that National Agricultural Seed Council was regulating less than 10,000 MT of seed of all crops, adding that now the Council is regulating about 60,000 MT of seeds,” Adesina said.
Adesina added that under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), the number of private sector companies already licensed and those awaiting licensing for seed production and marketing rose from 11 in 2011 to 133 in 2014, while stating that a total of 99 seed companies were participating in the GES programme.
However, the Minister identified some of the challenges confronting the seed sector to include; validation of the quality of seed planted by farmers, unwholesome acts by some seed companies to frustrate the good efforts of the government and other seed producers through the sale of adulterated or poor seed quality as well as the other infractions in the sector.
Outlining some of the measures being employed to conquer the challenges, he stated that 100 National Youth Service Corps members have been engaged and trained to assist the seed certification officers in seed certification and quality control, as well as deployment of technology to carry out seed field inspection.