President of the Seed Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), Mr Richard Olafare, has called for measures that would make improved and quality seeds available to farmers at affordable prices.
He made the call at the ongoing National Retreat on Seed, organised by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in Abuja. Olafare said there could not be any sustainable agriculture or food security programme without quality seed.
“One important thing that we have to look at and tackle critically is that we are dealing with Nigerian farmers that are poor resourced in nature.
“When you look at agricultural sector or production sector of Nigeria, over 70 per cent live in the rural areas; about 50 per cent live below poverty level.
“We are talking of seeds; not very many farmers have the capacity or funding to buy quality seeds. They cannot even buy fertilizer.
“Nigeria situation is that our farmers need to have access to funding and have market to sell their produce,” Olafare said.
Olafare noted that with the introduction of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) the country had witnessed improvement in the seed industry. He said in the three years since ATA started in Nigeria, the adoption rate of quality seed had increased from 12 per cent to over 25 per cent, “which is above ATA aims to achieve within five years.”
“With improvement of the industry, we have quality seeds being distributed to Nigerian farmers.
“Over the years, before 2011, all quality seeds that could be harnessed within the country was just about 4,000 metric tons; but today, we have been able to produce over 150,000 tons of assorted seeds.
“Before 2011, there were only eight surviving companies; multinationals came, then went back because they couldn’t stand the test of time; huge over head, no income, because farmers were not picking (the seeds).
He expressed confidence that the two day retreat would offer a quality recommendation that would improve the country’s seed sector.