NIGERIA – A consortium of non-governmental organisations has unveiled plans of investing about US$1.9million to support seed companies in Nigeria in the production of quality early generation seeds.

The three-year project is being supported by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), United State Agency for International Development (USAID), United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The objective of the project among others, include increasing production and dissemination of early generation seeds to seed companies to combat counterfeit seeds in the market.

Kehinde Makinde, AGRA Country Director, said the fund would be disseminated among two seed companies; Premiere Seeds, and Value seeds and the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).

He said the focus is to reach two million farmers with improved certified rice, soya bean, and maize seeds.

According to Dr Philip Ojo, the Director-General, NASC, Nigeria requires about 400,000 metric tonnes (MT) of certified seeds annually.

He said that the provision of 1,810MT of foundation seeds would, among others, ensure seed companies are able to meet demand.

“It is actually our way to ensure that only good quality seeds are made available to farmers; and farmers are no longer surcharged, and to enable farmers know that what they are buying are authentic to improve productivity and food security,” he said.

Dr Ojo also said private seed companies would work to ensure that there is adequate quantity of early generation seeds to have good quality seeds at the farmers end.

He said NASC would regulate activities of the seed companies, and provide quality assurance mechanism to ensure that what they bring out is the best quality.

“We are also going to ensure that after producing, the tags that go on those seeds are smart tags that farmers can get better assurance that these are quality seeds,” he said.

This comes as a boost to the regulator’s efforts of enhancing quality seed production after it recently introduced an innovative platform for electronic quality verification of seeds and planting materials in the country.

The agency working in collaboration with mPedigree as its strategic innovation partner, will deploy an oversight technology to advance the program and ensure digital surveillance of the national seeds supply system.

The scheme is set to take effect this month enabling farmers to verify the certification status of seed packets they purchase from agro-dealers.