The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has disclosed that about 70 per cent of the seeds used in West Africa are provided by Nigeria.
Lokpobiri, who stated this during a familiarisation visit to the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Abuja, unfolded plans to improve the facilities available in the center to meet up with best global practice.
He said; “It’s interesting to note that Nigeria also provides for about 70 per cent of the seeds used in West Africa and I believe this is a very golden opportunity for more companies to enter the seed market, produce more seeds to meet the demands of Nigeria in agricultural diversification.”
Lamenting the huge export bill to the tune of $22m incurred by the country on staple foods, he said; “The foundation of achieving food security can only be realised through the availability of quality seeds.”
The Minister also noted that the mandate of the seed council is so fundamental with its objective of producing and providing enough food, which cannot be achieved, except the seed council, is supported.
He noted that the seed quality has continued to increase over the years as the production of seeds rose from about 5000 metric tonnes in 2007 to about 173,000 metric tones of maize and rice certified seeds in 2015 and a rise in revenue generation of N17m in 2011 to about 230m in 2014.
“We were able to achieve this success through enhanced collaboration with research institutes, liberalisation of foundation seed production, strengthening of the National seed certification scheme to cope with the accelerated increase in seed production, as well as, total withdrawal of government agencies from certified seed production and marketing,” he said.