The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said the government is currently working towards establishing seed extension offices across the local governments in the country to check the circulation of fake seeds in the country.
Ogbeh, who stated this during this year’s Seed Fair organised by the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), expressed dissatisfaction over the rate at which fake seeds circulate across the country.
Chief Ogbeh further noted that without good seeds, agriculture would be impossible, adding that farmers cannot repay the loans from banks if they do not have good seeds that will get them harvestable yields.
“Without good seeds, agriculture is impossible. There is no point going to borrow money from the bank to buy uncertified seeds hoping that you can get a good harvest, pay the bank, make your profit and continue in agriculture; you cannot,” Ogbeh said.
He said, “In Nigeria, there were fake seed companies packaging all kinds of junk in very nicely printed packages and distributing to farmers, so when you buy them, you plant, your yield is so low, the loan you took from the bank cannot be repaid and then the banks begin to trouble you.
“We are going to open extension offices in all the local government to monitor the quality of seeds and inputs being given to farmers, a small branch of Bank of Agriculture to give loans to farmers and we are working towards reducing the interest rate to 5 per cent instead of 25 to 30 per cent which the commercial banks are charging.
“Unless interest rates go down in this country, we have no future. We can’t be borrowing at 25 per cent. It doesn’t happen anywhere in the world, you can’t tell a farmer to take a loan at 25 per cent and repay because the farmer cannot do it,” he added.
In his address, the Director-General of NASC, Dr Philip Ojo said improved seed use is the most cost effective input in agricultural productivity and also set the highest potential of other inputs.
“I believe this year’s promotional efforts through this seed fair will further increase the awareness of farmers on the benefits of the use of improved seeds over their traditional land races and improve farmer’/ seed company linkages for feedback on seeds purchase,” Dr Ojo noted.
Meanwhile, in a press conference, Dr Ojo said the National Agricultural Seed Council can no longer condone these sharp practices being perpetrated by individuals and companies under various programmes and initiatives which have resulted in the supply of low quality seeds to farmers across the Nigeria.
According to him, “Members of the public in general and seed industry stakeholders in particular are hereby requested to note that the seed sector is a fully policed and regulated industry that is open only to those recognised by the National Agricultural Seed Acts 72 of 1992.
“By the provisions of Section 22, Sub-section 1 of the Seed Act under reference, no person other than a person registered and accredited by the NASC under the National Agricultural Seed Acts 72 of 1992 shall produce or be engaged in the seed production, processing and marketing of seeds for commercial purpose in Nigeria.”
“Furthermore, section 12, Sub-section 1 of the Act stipulates that all plant seed for the purpose of marketing shall be certified in accordance to the provisions of the Seeds Act and other regulations of the seed council.
“Any packaging containing certified seeds shall bear a certification tag issued by NASC which shall be different from the label of the seed producer. The NASC has the sole authority to print, distribute and affix the certification tag.
“It is unlawful therefore for any organization to sell, keep for sal or offer to sell any seed unless the seeds have passed through the process of certification and found to conform to the standards set for the class of seed”.
In that regard, Dr Ojo however said “Henceforth, we have directed our enforcement officers nationwide to commence full scale surveillance and enforcement of the provisions of the seed act”.