• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Domestic seed production rises 3,415%

Pricier imported seeds open window for local firms

Seed production in Nigeria has increased by about 3,415 per cent as a result of the operations of private seed companies. The production of seeds for major arable crops in Nigeria increased from 4,252 metric tons in 2010 to 149,484 metric tons in 2013, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to the ministry’s reports, the industry before the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) was characterised by low seed uptake, weak enforcement of regulation, certification and quality control processes and procedures; few seed operators, inadequate breeder and foundation seeds; weak seed value chain structure, weak public-private collaboration; inefficient data collection system and weak monitoring and evaluation schemes, etc.

To boost domestic seed production, seed production outlets in the country were capacitated. Apart from building the capacities of the respective National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs), certified seed producing entrepreneurs (private seed companies, NGOs, CBOs, and Seed Cooperatives Societies, etc) were supported to access funds for seed production and buyback, and encouraged to step up production by giving accreditation for foundation seed production to qualified companies, marketing support and total withdrawal of all public sector from certified seed production and marketing.

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The objective of the current policy is to promote private sector participation and encourage competitiveness.

According to the reports, the number of private seed entrepreneurs rose from 36 accredited in 2010 to 80 in 2013, and 99 seed companies participated in the 2014 wet season Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme.

The reports also say additional 87 seed entrepreneurs have been considered and approved by the National Committee on Accreditation of Seed Entrepreneurs for ratification by the ministry.

Global seed industry leaders such as Syngenta, Seed. Co West Africa and DuPont-Pioneer have now commenced operations in Nigeria. Also, Monsanto seeds have commenced adaptation trials.

One of the companies contributing to this astronomical rise in the country’s seed production is Maslaha Seeds Nigeria, started in 2008.

Emmanuel Otobo, an official of the company, recently, at an exhibition in Lagos, says Maslaha is into production and marketing of seeds, saying “we produce and market all seeds such as maize rice, soya beans, millets, sorghum and all vegetable seeds such as tomatoes, okro, lettuce, cucumber, and so on. “We have been in business for the past eight years and we are based in Gusau, Zamfara State. Prospective buyers either buy from our agents or contact us to buy directly from us. We do make deliveries to the buyer.”

Highlighting the uniqueness of the seeds, he says, “we have red or yellow maize and we have white maize. The uniqueness is that our seeds are very pure and qualitative. The green colour of the seeds is to differentiate the seeds that are treated from the ones that are not treated. The farmer would not need to use pesticides throughout the growing cycle of the plant grown from this seed, because we have treated them.”

He further says that the treated seeds are disease-resistant in addition to pest-resistant, and that the company does not sell untreated seeds because the seeds may be attacked by pests before they are planted. If the untreated seeds do not get attacked by insects before planting, they would definitely be attacked when planted because the pests are soil insects, he says.

On the effects of the chemicals on human consumers, Otobo firmly assures that all the effects of the chemicals get worn off from the seeds before the crop matures for harvest.