* FG plans seed testing laboratories in states
By John Odunjo
The Federal Government is embarking on aggressive campaigns to ensure stakeholders in the agricultural value chain are doing right things to ensure increase in agricultural yields.
Part of this was the sensitization and educational enlightenment workshop for seed stakeholders in the Southwest with the theme, ‘Use of quality seed guarantees bumper harvest’, held in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, organised by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
NASC Director of Seeds Inspectorate, Bulus Sule, reiterated commitment of the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensuring that Nigerian farmers had access to and plant quality seeds which would give them assurance of bumper harvest and huge earning.
Sule, who advised farmers that planting certified seeds would increase their productivity, urged them not to settle for less, saying, “When you use certified, quality seeds for planting, your production per hectare will increase by almost 60 per cent. When you add other inputs, you will achieve 100 per cent. This is boosting the yield per hectare.
“Already, the agricultural yield per hectare is increasing on daily basis because of the quality of seed. This is what the council has achieved over some time now.
“Once agricultural production improves, then automatically, the economy will jerk up. In the 1960s and 70s, most of the employment, foreign reserves and other things came from agriculture. The gross domestic product then was high.
“It was the advent of oil that reversed the trend because people left agriculture and went after oil. But with the introduction of quality seed that the NASC is doing now, we have seen that the old days of agriculture are coming back,” he said.
The director said the FG, through the council was thinking of establishing satellite seed testing laboratories in the 36 states of the federation.
He said, “Satellite laboratories in the states will bring seed testing close to the farmers so that even those in the hinterland will have access. They will not need to go far to test their seed to know that the quality of the seed that they are growing is of high standard and they will be able to make bumper harvest from it”.
“We believe that the economy of Nigeria in terms of GDP in agriculture will double or triple in no distant time. In 2012, there were only about 74 seed producing agencies in Nigeria accredited by the council, but when intervention came with intensive campaigns and others, more than 314 seed companies are now in production.
“With this production now, the issue of importation will stop. They were importing that time because there were not many seed companies. Before now, what was being spent on the importation of food to the country was running into billions of naira sometimes in dollars, but with what we are doing now that people are using quality seed, the narrative is fast changing,” Sule said.