NIGERIA – The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) of Nigeria says the council has been repositioned to facilitate the production and marketing of high quality seeds.

Speaking in Abuja, Dr Olusegun Ojo, the Director-General of the NASC, said that the council seeks to continually promote the development of a dependable seed industry and regulated the registration of released crop varieties.

He noted that the council was in the process of providing legal backing for official testing, certification, sales, importation, exportation and use of seeds in the country.

National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill

The country has made major strides in legislative framework around the sector which has been supported by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s signimng of the National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill into law.

The new Seed Act 2019 replaces the National Agricultural Seeds Acts, Cap. No. 5, Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Dr Olusegun said that the council would be piloting the deployment of smart, tamper proof and enhanced security certification tags, which would replace the old seed certification tags.

“This was in the bid to ensure that farmers have access to only the best quality seeds in 2019 and beyond.’’

Ojo said that the initiative had been launched with support of partners from Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

He said that this was done under the umbrella of the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA).

“The initiative was introduced to enhance the efficiency of our quality assurance mechanism with the deployment of a tamper evident traceability system.

“It allows farmers and seed users to be able to reach the council and get first-hand information on the authenticity of the seed they purchased from any vendor or source using SMS verification code.

“The NASC certification tags will now have a scratch able portion with specialised electronic codes which the farmer will be able through SMS to send to a dedicated NASC number in our office.

“He will then receive immediate information on the genuineness of the seed he is purchasing. Seed producers will also be rest assured that their product cannot be counterfeited due to the NASC tag issued,” he explained.

He added that doing business without accreditation of the NASC, importation or exportation of seeds of any form without NASC approval, false labeling, selling of seeds in open container, are all infringements of the Seed Act.

In addition, with the new Plant Variety Protection Act, plant breeders in the country who develop new and improved seeds for increased crop production are set to be provided with legal intellectual property rights to the varieties.

AGRA and USAID are also collaborating with the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) in Geneva, Switzerland to secure new seed systems and varieties of high-performance seeds for Nigeria’s agricultural transformation.