The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has disclosed that it has introduced a facility called Goseed to smallholder farmers in the country which will allow it to distribute seeds directly to the farmers rather than with government-owned agencies.
With the Goseed, it will enable farmers to have unrestricted access to seeds developed by the institute in commercial quantity without farmers going through the stress to government agencies to get the needed seeds.
She said, “We also now have a facility which we call Goseed, which is a the commercial arm of IITA that now produces seeds for some important food crops such as maize, soybean, cowpea and also some vegetative crops like yam, cassava and banana.
“So that facility, for example, we have a laboratory at IITA that develops seeds for banana, cassava. We are working with partners in the private sector to make the technology accessible to farmers. By bridging the gap, we are working with the various national programmes with the federal ministry of agriculture, and the local branches and other research institutions and service providers who will mass-produce the seeds that will be sold to farmers.”
According to Agribusiness Africa, a body whose aim is at providing platforms for small and scaling Agribusiness owners to reach out to investors argued that seeds used by farmers in the country cannot produce bountiful harvests due to the unhealthy environment in which most of the seeds used for planting is being kept by the farmers. It also added that to get bountiful harvests; seeds must be in their best possible and quality condition; free from any form of infestation and contamination from foreign bodies.
“There is a large gap in seed production in Nigeria. We are only producing 25 percent of seeds needed for production. The quality of seeds determines what you harvest. Most seeds are not viable because these seeds are poorly stored for a very long time.
The Nigeria agriculture sector is no doubt the nation’s next available source in salvaging the economy from heading to the doldrums, apart from provisions of grants and credits to farmers to acquire farm machinery and fertilizers there is also the need to pay attention to the huge deficit of seeds production in the country’s agriculture sector. Without proper concentration on the production of quality seeds for farmers achieving food security and turning the agriculture sector into a money-spinner for revenue generation like crude oil could be far from attainment.
However, for farmers to have seed sufficiency for planting, about 400, 000 metric tonnes per annum is needed to boost planting this could mean that N130 billion is needed to fund seed production according to Timothee Pasqualini, a data analyst at Access to seeds Foundation.
According to Nigerian Seed Portal, there are 312 seed companies in Nigeria with a specialty on various seed crops and yet only 25 percent of 400,000 that is 100,000 metric tonnes of seeds are accessed by farmers, this has however, rendered farmers productivity ineffective therefore putting the agriculture sector in a vulnerable state.
By Kenneth Afor