From: Babatunde Azeez, Abuja
Following efforts by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to pay debt incurred by the Growth Enhancement and Support (GES) scheme from 2014, Seed Entrepreneur Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) on Wednesday said the present administration has offset some portion of the debt.
SEEDAN President, Mr Richard Olafare disclosed this during a workshop held in Abuja.
But Mr. Olafare said the debts from GES scheme which was over N16billion has been cleared with an outstanding of about N10billon to be paid.
According to him: “By the time the former administration was leaving, it was over N16 billion and when this administration came, put together with fertilizer, they have been paying us in bits, but now what is outstanding is about N10billion which we are begging and lobbying to see if we can get before the expiration of this administration.”
Olafare said the association is doing everything possible to help the seed industry gain access to funding and by extension assure farmers of quality seed.
He said in accordance with directives from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the association as a body will ensure there is level of credibility and integrity, to ensure that the seed companies that are operating will work within ethical norms of the industry.
While speaking at the workshop themed “Ethics and Financial Standards for Seed Producers: Panacea to Sustainable Quality Seed Production”, Olafare said the training is aimed at equipping industry players with technical capacities that will ensure food security.
“We want to make sure that they have access to quality early generating seeds and finance, by going all out to see how we can get access to seed finding, either through the CBN or private investors
“We are going to work as a body as we as been asked by the CBN to come under the umbrella of SEEDAN and make sure there is level of credibility and integrity, to ensure that the seed companies that are operating will work within the norms of the ethics of the seed industry.
“We want to be sure they have the technical know how the ability and the market and build their capacity to make sure they are relevant in the industry.” He added.
In his remarks, Director General, National Agricultural Seed Council, Dr Philip Ojo said all machineries are being put in motion to ensure that the seed entrepreneurs are paid in due time.
He explained that seed security is sacrosanct to ensuring food security, hence the role of the Minister of Agriculture on leading industry players to the CBN.
In response to question on the seed bill, Dr. Ojo said the bill has been passed by the House of Representative and will be sent to the Senate with hope that the bill will be signed by the President.
“Honestly, we under the umbrella of the minister, met with the CBN on ways and means to ensure that all this things are actually cleared.
“I just want to say that all machineries are been put in motion to ensure that they are paid, because we are talking of food security. We cannot have food security without seed security and you can not have seed security unless you have good production practices, to ensure that people that are been owed are paid and they will be able to produce quality seeds. I am happy and sure the minister is on top of the situation and he is even the chairman of our board and he even led the industry to the CBN so that the seed fund is put in place.
“You heard the house committee member on seed saying the bill was returned because of some things it had in it, but it is back now and it has been passed again by the house of rep and it is going to the Senate and I am sure the will pass it and it will be passed to the president and this time around because all the problems of the past has been sorted out by the Council and all the stakeholders to ensure that there will be no reason for non assent to the bill”.
House of Rep Member, Hon Dandutse Mohammed, urged NIRSAL to discuss and corporate with the seed council to ensure quality seed supply to avoid likely failure regarding planting and food production.
He threatened to drag the agency before ICPC, EFCC or even bring them before the National Assembly, if they do not retrace their steps and engage registered seed companies.
He warned that the agency will be held responsible if the non register companies been engaged by the agency provide adulterated seeds to farmers.
“If NIRSAL does not listen to what we are saying, we will deal with them and report to ICPC, EFCC or even bring them before the National Assembly because we are fighting corruption and all forms of irregularities. They need to do what is to be done and call all stakeholders
“What is fundamental is that NIRSAL ought to look into seed companies that are dully registered and promote them, because they are doing most of the things informally with some of the people that are not even conceiving to do what is to be done.
“Currently there is a program which they are doing, but most of the people that are supplying inputs are not registered companies.” He stated.
“That is why we are raising issues and we are telling them on a serious note, they have to know that the companies and regulatory agencies are looking at them and then if it is an insider that is doing that he should make a rethinking, because if there is failure in terms of grains they buy in the open market and make it seeds, they will be held responsible, because they did not patronize the seed companies that are registered.” He noted.