*As Seeds Council gets ready for post COVID-19
By Emeka Anaeto
The first positive sign of a good year for agricultural sector may have been undermined by the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crises.
The Director General of the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Dr. Olusegun Ojo, in a statement yesterday, said the year opened with early rains that would have spurred take-off of farming operations but regretted that this has now been hampered by COVID-19 crises.
He said: “The onset of rainy season is earlier this year and farmers would have loved to begin planting early but their activities would be severely limited and onset of planting in many parts of Nigeria delayed due to the lockdown and restriction of movement.
“We, however, regret the inconveniences this COVID 19 outbreak might have caused our local farming community, the seed entrepreneurs, our technical and logistic service providers and international partners.”
Ojo who also announced the postponement of this year’s SeedConnect conference earlier scheduled to hold in Abuja on the 20th and 21st of April, 2020 due to the COVID crises, however told the stakeholders in the seed sub-sector to be prepared to move on to the markets as soon as green lights are on and restrictions on movement are lifted.
He also added: “We want to encourage the farming community to be ready to purchase their seeds as soon as possible, and ensure they patronize reputable, registered and NASC-approved seed dealers, as weather forecast and realities show that rainy season will commence early this year. Farming therefore needs to commence without delay.
“I urge you all to use the period of restriction to plan your sales and farming activities and make necessary enquiries prior to the commencement of farming.
“With the roll out of our electronic system of seed quality authentication, I urge all seed buyers to ensure the quality of the seeds they buy by using the information on the seed packs to ensure they purchase genuine seeds.
“We are aware that few unscrupulous elements may want to use the opportunity of the period to defraud farmers by selling them fake and adulterated seeds once the lockdown is lifted. For this group of people, we wish to remind them that the newly signed NASC Act 2019 has provided us with the legal backing to bite and will come all out after them using the full force of the law.”