By Sylvester Thompson
The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) says the council has been repositioned to facilitate the production and marketing of high quality seeds.
Dr Olusegun Ojo, the Director-General of the NASC, made this known at a news conference on Friday in Abuja.
Ojo said the council achieved this by promoting the development of a dependable seed industry and regulated the registration of released crop varieties.
He said the council was in the process of providing legal backing for official testing, certification, sales, importation, exportation and use of seeds in the country.
He said it would be able to carry out those responsibilities effectively since President Muhammadu Buhari had signed into law the National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill.
The new Seed Act 2019 replaces the National Agricultural Seeds Acts, Cap. No. 5, Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The director-general 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,” the D-G said.
Ojo said the president’s assent to the new seed law showed “his commitment to the wellbeing of Nigerian farmers which makes it more difficult for unscrupulous elements to defraud them.”
“The story is no longer the same because anyone who contravenes the provision of the seed law as a first offender will be sentenced to jail for a period of one year.
“The first offender can also pay a fine of one N1 million, subject to the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction.
“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 etc, are all infringements of the Seed Act,” he said.