The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) is doing all within reach to ensure that seed sector related activities are sustained and promoted even in the midst of the pandemic for Nigeria to be able to have continuous supply of adequate quantities of food for its population.
According to its director general, Dr Philip Olusegun Ojo, the industry have available at the disposal of accredited seed companies across the country about 81,000 metric tons of certified seeds of rice, maize, sorghum, soyabean, 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 spoke recently during the media briefing for the preparation and readiness for the 2020 planting season and strategies to cope with the impact of the covid-19 pandemic organised by the council.
“As the industry is preparing to push this quantity 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.
However, you all are aware that the CORONA VIRUS Pandemic have suddenly upset human activities and change the narratives. 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 sector. 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”.
Dr Ojo noted that “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 starring us all in the face and we can only achieve this using high quality seeds”.
He said the council will therefore 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.
Amongst these actions are the following:
- Structure the trade of seed and agro-inputs in designated markets and on specific days while complying with social distancing directions of relevant agencies of government at both local, state and federal levels.
- The above will be done using a decentralized model for organizing the markets that allows quality seed and agro-inputs to be transported close to farmers, and thus reduce the distance that farmers need to travel to access inputs
- Create seed sector task forces at federal, state and local government levels to review regularly the interstate movement of essential agricultural goods and services and provide guidance on measures to be taken to responsible authorities
- Advocate and raise awareness to ensure that the services and business of seed companies and agro-input dealers are designated as essential. This is with a view to communicating their role as essential to food security and the national economy widely through all traditional and social media platforms
- This awareness will target, and specifically tailored to, security and other law enforcement agencies to enable the effective inter- and intrastate movement of seed and other agro-input.