The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has said that over 250,000 tonnes of seeds is needec to meet the needs of the 20 million farmers targeted under the Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA).
Mr Olusegun Olatokun, the Director-General of the council, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Olatokun said that the Federal Government, in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), had begun the process of reviewing the Seed Act and Seed Policy, to facilitate the process of meeting the target.
“If you look at the quantum of seeds government was giving out when we started, we were giving less than 400 tonnes; but now, we are talking about 100,000 tonnes.
“What we require to meet the needs of the 20 million farmers for ATA is more than 250,000 tonnes; by the time we reach every farmer, we should be talking about 500,000 tonnes of seeds.
“There is the need for private producers to come in and identify research institutes that are producing breeder seeds to also come in and also for the production of foundation seeds.
“We also need to identify some other seed companies that produce seeds for farmers; but to do these, we need to review our laws.’’
According to the director-general, the council is currently importing seeds to be able to meet the demand.
He said that the essence of the ongoing review was to make the council self-sufficient in the supply of seeds.
According to him, the demand is higher than supply both in terms of fertiliser and seeds, adding that the vaccum had created a loophole for people to do everything possible to meet up with the demand.
“The problem is the vacuum in terms of supply and demand; the demand is much more than the supply whether in seeds or fertiliser.
“The moment you realise that the demand is more than the supply; people want to do everything to meet up with the demand.’’
Olatokun, however, said that the government had designed measures to address most challenges in the sector through the instrumentality of the Seed Policy.
The challenges, he said, included poor quality seeds sold to farmers by some companies, poor yield potentials inadequate distribution channels by companies and low demand due to poor sensitisation.
“The Seed Policy is part of the nation’s agricultural policy which promotes the use of green revolution inputs such as improved seeds, fertiliser, crop protection chemicals and irrigation, among others,’’ he explained.
The director-general further said that to assist the private sector, which he described as the engine room of any meaningful development, government had continued to develop and support them to access seeds.
“The government will continue to facilitate access to breeder and foundation seeds of publicly ‘bred cultivars’, grant exclusive right to produce and market hybrids and exotic vegetables.
“It will also grant freedom to import ‘germplasm’ subject to plant quarantine and seed regulations as well as liberalise licence to seed operators.
“The government will offer technical support in seed processing, seed marketing, human capacity and quality control and vocational courses and other seed support programmes,’’ he said.