By Emeka Anaeto, Business Editor
Nigeria’s National Seed Council (NSC) has now emerged the dominant force in the West Africa seed industry, controlling about 70 percent of the agricultural seeds used in the sub-region.
This was disclosed by the Director General of the Council, Dr Philip Olusegun, who said that the feat was a result of the transformation programme embarked upon by the NSC four years ago. Reflecting on the progress of the little known 12-year old government agency, he stated: ‘For four years, we were able to take the Council out of the woods as we became the champion
of West Africa’s seed value chain. Nigeria is now producing between 60 and 70 percent of the seeds we use in West Africa and we are leveraging on technology so as to ensure that farmers have access to adequate and quality seeds.”
Olusegun listed the factors that have driven rapid progress in the affairs of the Council to include a Governing Board that is very supportive and cooperative, public-private sector partnership initiatives, local and international collaborations, adoption of state-of-the-art technologies in the seed industry and the enactment of a new seed law.
According to him, “although funding has been a challenge for the industry, the Council has been able to tackle the problems instead of waiting for the federal government’s budget which may not fit into our plan. So, we are partnering with a lot of stakeholders, both national and international, to achieve our goals. “These partnerships and collaborations have actually assisted us, enabling us to achieve some of the things we have done and also building the capacity of some of our staff as they have been trained in best international practices at some of the best institutions in the United Kingdom and today, they are champions in their various areas.”
Amongst the new initiatives being executed to further drive successes in the seed industry was the recent launch of the National Seed Tracker, NST.
Commenting on this, Olusegun said: “The Seed Tracker started as a cassava seed tracker and yam seed tracker, but what we have now is not only a tracker that is specifically tailored to a particular crop, but a national seed crop. It is an app whereby industry operators can go into, operate and see what is happening in the seed value chain from the beginning to the end of it.
“It was done in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) because IITA is a major partner with us, under which umbrella we are doing other programmes, including building a sustainable and integrated seed system for cassava. Other programme is Yam Improvement for Food Security in West Africa.
“The programmes and the partnerships ensure that whatever gaps that are along the value chain are actually blocked whilst information along the value chain become easily available.”