With the the usage of Substandard seeds and adulterated inputs in the country’s agricultural sector becoming rampant, Nigeria’s food security has been projected by agro-scientists who are presently predicting looming dangers ahead as regards the health threatening inputs in the cultivation of food crops in the country.
Factual researches have come up with evidence over the years as food security in the country has been faced with serious threats, due to the proportional relationship between inputs and outputs, seedlings, other substandard inputs and seedlings grown with the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) which are all attributed to result to a devastating decline in the average yield per hectare across ecological zones in the nation
Low investments in seed breeding by the government and private sector operators have created a huge gap between demand and supply of quality seeds, seedlings and other inputs such as agrochemicals.
Researchers have also confirmed that Nigeria asides seedlings and other inputs, available seeds constitute 320,000 metric tonnes which are mostly adulterated. Since researches have given room for adulteration, an overwhelming influx of disease-infested and obsolete species of seeds and seedlings, coupled with other farm inputs and substandard agrochemicals, it has become economically strainous for most farmers to purchase improved seeds that would give them the best of yields.
Furthermore, low purchasing prowess of the older generation of farmers as a result of the insufficient income at their disposal has also had a negative impact by way of working against the farmers desire to acquire improved seeds that are highly resistant to disease and high-yielding varieties that could guarantee sustainable outputs per hectare are often out of the reach of the farmers.
Most farmers plant grains as seeds, according to plant breeders, which have lost their genetic trait potential as a result over-use. This also trickles down on the larger economy, forcing the country to spend billions of naira per annum on importation of food and raw materials. Rice, tomato paste, fish and vegetable oil are chief among the imported foods.Substandard agro-chemicals, including fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides, also have far damaging effects on the quality, quantity and profitability of farm products.
Meanwhile, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Prof. Lateef Sanni, confirmed that substandard seeds, seedlings and agrochemicals are all forces that could possibly stimulate low yields when it is due time for farmers to harvest.
He said: “They will affect plant size, canopy and root formation, thereby causing poor quality outputs. Harvest of low yield will result in non-profitable production. This will reduce income of farmers and encourage hunger in the land. It is advisable to use standard, quality and pure seedlings. Farmers should adhere strictly to instructions on the use of agro-chemicals.”
On the other hand, Alhaji Ibrahim Kabiru who is the President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, explained that farmers tend to fall into the trap of using adulterated seeds in the open market when they don’t have ready access to certified seeds and chemical inputs. In an attempt to persuade farmers to abstain from the usage of adulterated seeds he urged them to follow a more fruitful option of seeking advice on seeds and agro-chemical inputs when anyone embarks on agriculture as a business venture.
Thus, Sanni maintained that if the aforementioned advice is not sought, farmers continue to patronise adulterated grains, it would be at their own perril as they would be prepared to face the consequences of all sorts of setbacks, inclusive of low yield per hectares.
“If, for example, a farmer uses ordinary grains of corn/maize instead of certified seeds, he might get even less than the traditional two tonnes per hectare of maize that is the obtainable, averagely, in Nigeria today.”On the poor seeds, Prof. Samuel Olakojo, a plant breeder at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) said, “Substandard seeds and seedlings are not genetically pure, and the pedigree cannot be traced. They are not from a known genetic source, and the agronomic and nutritional components will not be uniformed,” he explained.
While on the field, he added, the morphological characteristics differ within the population. Flowering days, plant height, physiological maturity, yield and responses to mineral uptake from the soil are often very poor. The effects, Olakojo said, include but not limited to poor germination and low plant population per unit area; loss incurred from use of labour, chemicals, farm maintenance and so on, which cannot be recovered due to low plant population occasions by substandard seed; poor yield; low return and alteration in nutritional quality such as protein, starch and other mineral components, especially if it is maize.
Effects of substandard chemical is similar, the scientist said. These chemicals become substandard when low active ingredients are found in them; when they have expired; when they are adulterated or when they are not properly stored by the guiding principles of storage. “For example, some should be in brown bottles to avoid sunlight, some must be stored on pallets, and some cannot be stored in metal containers where heat is generated,” Olakojo explained.