Proper seed system will drive agriculture sector growth – Minister

Mohammed Abubakar, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has said that a well structured seed system is needed in Nigeria to support the desired sectoral growth.

Speaking on Monday during the SEEDCONNECT AFRICA 2021 Conference and Exhibition in Abuja, Abubakar said the government, since 2015 have continued to build on past policies that rode on seed systems to achieve incredible impact on agricultural development in Nigeria.

He said, “over time, we have agreed that seed is the starting point of any Agricultural revolution and a panacea for food and nutritional security.

“We need to join forces together to build a strong and sustainable seed delivery system. From research programmes to, variety release, commercial seed multiplication, seed quality assurance, seed haulage logistics, and seed utilization. Working in isolation will only make the value chain break, causing unprecedented systemic disruptions.

“To fast-track development of Agricultural value chains, improve the efficiency of delivery of seeds and other agri inputs, and enhance productivity, we have launched the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket (NAGS&AP) Implementation and Technical working committee.”

He said that the programs are aimed at implementing input delivery and growth enhancement initiative, for the benefit of farmers across Nigeria.

According to him, the agricultural sector has remained the highest contributor to the Nigerian economy at 29.9 percent, adding that agriculture in Nigeria is the most important driver to full diversification of our economy, and it must be strengthened.

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In his address, Philip Ojo, director-general, National Agricultural Seed Council, noted that food systems of many economies have been thrown into seasons of uncertainties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, the importance of SEEDCONNECT Africa cannot be overemphasized as it brings together Seed Industry Stakeholders from all parts of the World to discuss and deliberate on issues and topics of mutual benefit to the Seed System.

“The COVID-19 has complicated access to quality seeds and other inputs such as fertilizers and agro-inputs thereby disrupting the food security situation of many countries and economies.

“This event couldn’t have come at a better time than now: at a time, the world is facing great uncertainties, the Coronavirus pandemic is fueling a lot of anxiety about negative economic growth, failing health care systems, disruptions to supply chains and markets, collapsing food systems and worsening food security situations,” he said.

He explained that Nigeria, over the years has benefited immensely from seed conferences as it creates an avenue for stakeholders to develop implementable ideas that have helped in shaping the Nigerian Seed industry.

Ojo called for collaboration among stakeholders in the seed subsector, while appealing to other government agencies to respect each other’s mandates and not to create unnecessary rivalries but promote understanding amongst each other.

“The NASC recognizes these facts and is working hard, in collaboration with various partners to ensure we create a sustainable and robust seed system in Nigeria capable of withstanding shocks such as those brought in by the novel Covid-19 pandemic”, he added.