From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
The National Agricultural Seed Council on Wednesday says it has in abundant about 81,000 metric tons of certified seeds of rice, maize, sorghum, soybean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame and potato for farmers use for the 2020 farming season.
The Council disclosed that the seeds are ready for deployment and purchase for farmers, thus farmers should worry less about food production for the 2020 farming season.
NASC Director-General, Dr Philip Ojo disclosed this in Abuja during a webinar stressing that that the seeds are ready despite the COVID-19 lockdown.
He stressed that there are ongoing efforts by the Council and relevant agencies to ensure that seeds reach the farmers in the grassroots amid the pandemic.
Nigerian farmers have earlier expressed concerns over a possible food crisis aftermath of the lockdown due to post harvest losses and low access to seeds.
They also attributed their reasons to the lockdown directive until the sector was offered consideration.
But Ojo said the seeds would ensure that agricultural activities were not disrupted as a result of the lockdown imposed across the country as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“The National Agricultural Seeds Council is doing all within reach to ensure that seed sector-related activities are sustained and promoted even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic for Nigeria to be able to have a continuous supply of adequate quantities of food for its population.
“Today as I speak with you, the industry has available at the disposal of accredited seed companies across the country about 81,000 metric tons of certified seeds of rice, maize, sorghum, soybean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame and potato that are ready for deployment and purchase by farmers for the production of food and raw materials for Nigerians”, Dr Ojo said.
He, however, commended the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for its efforts in ensuring that farmers and input suppliers move freely during the lockdown without hindrance.
He said as the industry is preparing to push the number of certified seeds to the market, companies, like every farmer, are also preparing to go to their fields to plant so that we can have adequate quantities of seeds for the next cropping season
“Going back to the field for seed sector operatives has now become a challenge as the measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus are impacting negatively on the activities of the sector like with many other sectors.
“We commend the efforts of our Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure that agricultural stakeholders can now move about and conduct their businesses without hindrance. With the support, cooperation and understanding of the law enforcement agencies, this ministerial intervention will help agribusiness community greatly”, he said.
The DG further said that the COVID-19 outbreak had brought to the fore the importance of agriculture in sustaining the nation’s economy.
“The current situation has brought to the fore in a more pronounced way the importance of Agriculture to our sustainability as a nation and the huge responsibility placed on the farmers across the globe has come out more clearly.
“The urgent need to replace depleted food stock as a result of the massive purchase and consumption is now staring us all in the face and we can only achieve this using high-quality seeds”, he said.
“To be certain that we clearly understand the challenges and impact of the COVID-19 on the seed sector, the NASC together with Wageningen University and Sahel Consulting introduced a survey (quick scan survey) commencing from the month of April to access first-hand the impact of COVID -19 on the seed sector”.
“The scan has presented to us key areas of alert that are most impacted by the COVID-19 and also recommended coping strategies that will guide our future actions to ensure that we continue to supply our dear farmers with the best quality seeds while keeping the seed industry afloat during this trying period”, he added.
He, however, noted that the Seed Council would be working with various stakeholders to implement various coping actions which will help the sector to continue to function even in the midst of the crisis.