Seed War: Undermining Potentials Of Nigeria Seed Production Counter-Productive
• ECOWAS Countries Now Benefit From Seed Export
The N40billion agriculture Anchor Borrower’s Programme, an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), another dry season rice farming effort by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration may have opened doors for small and medium holder rice farmers, it also raised the issue of seed production in Nigeria.
The impression in some quarters, even at policy formulation echelon that the nation lacks the presence and capacity to meet the seed need of crop farmers is raising dust. Therefore stakeholders in the subsector see it as ploy to pull in foreigners and resort to importation of seed that are not truly suitable for Nigeria’s terrain.
Prior to 2011, there were only about 12 active indigenous seed companies producing 4,000 MT, a far cry from national requirement.
But in 2011/12, according to Prof. Abraham Ogungbile, former Research Scientist at the Institute of Agricultural Research, Samaru, Zaria, Kaduna State and chief executive of Premier Seeds, based in Zaria, a lot has changed positively. He said this is particularly so, when the former administration came up with the Growth Enhancement Support scheme (GES). “More companies came up, some of them have upgraded their capacities in terms of processing equipment; we produce seeds, not grains and the process of seed production is laborious. Most of us have doubled what we produced before,” he said.
Ogungbile said Premier Seeds, a member of Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SSEDAN) is interested in the production of genuine seeds in the country. “I have well over 5,000 MT of quality seeds, which have been inspected and certified by the National Agricultural Seed Council,” he said.
National president of SSEDAN, Mr. Richard Olafare, has expressed the readiness of members of his association to continue to support the federal government in efforts to boost agriculture. Olafare, who spoke in response to the flag-off of the anchor borrowers scheme in Kebbi State assured that the members are capable of producing seeds needed by Nigeria.
According to Olafare, some Nigerian seed producers are not only producing for the home market, but are already exporting to the West African sub-region.
“The seed companies today are not like they were in 2008,” Olafare said, pointing out “that was what culminated into supplying seeds to the Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.” According to him, 327 metric tons (MT) of rice and maize were supplied to Sierra Leone from Nigeria while 227 MT were supplied to Gambia.
Olafare said seed production has grown from 4,000 MT in 2011 to 8,000 MT of maize and 12,000MT of rice in 2012. He said, in all, a total of 25,000 MT of assorted seeds were produced within the first year. In the second year, however, rice seeds from local seed companies, redeemed under ATA, moved up to 46,000 MT, maize went up to 20,000 MT and sorghum increased to 18,000 MT.
On the third year, he said, 150,000 MT locally produced seeds were redeemed, while “the production went up to 200,000 MT as at 2014.” He disclosed that his association has an MoU with the Federal Ministry of Agricu lture, Federal Ministry of Finance and the NIRSAL of the Central Bank of Nigeria to guarantee investment into seed production.” he observed that the association has “lifted the seed uptake and adoption rate.”
Mr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, Managing Director of Maslaha Seeds, an indigenous seed company based in Gusau, Zamfara State, has called on the federal government to visit the facilities of some of the major seed producers to assess the status of the seed sector, “with a view to facilitating business in the seed sector.”
Alhaji Yusuf Ado Kibiya, chief executive of Kano-based Chimande Seeds, observed that the plight of indigenous seed companies needs to receive the attention of the government.