Assures conducive environment for seed biz to thrive
Says violators of Act’ll be jailed
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The National Agricultural Seeds Council, NASC, Tuesday, charged stakeholders to abide by the National Agricultural Seeds Council Act 2019, for their operations according to best global practices.
The charge was given in an address by Director-General, NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, while declaring open a one-day ‘Stakeholders’ Sensitization and Capacity Building Workshop on the Implementation of the NASC Act 2019’ held in Abuja.
Ojo said it was important for the Council to gather seed companies across the country for sensitisation as there are areas of the Act they are to know and operate accordingly in order not to violate those provisions in the Act.
He further stated that the Act has introduced a number of innovations including third-party certification, which creates avenues for young people and others to participate in seed quality control as a third party while the Seed Council has responsibility for oversight.
He also made it known that certification of planting materials are now certifiable entities, whereby the Act empowers the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to approve categories of planting materials for certification purposes.
The workshop had Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, Managing Directors, MDs, and representatives of various seed companies in attendance.
He said: “Over the past years, the NASC has been working tirelessly with seed companies, partners, donor agencies, and the funds you are accelerating by your accelerated investments and improved institutional efficiency and effectiveness in the seed sector.
“To this end, we have been able to achieve a lot. However, the ‘road’ is still far, but today the seed industry is witnessing a lot of transformation; new innovations are actually being introduced to make the work of the sector easier and more effective and efficient.
“As you are all aware the National Agricultural Seed Act No 72 of 1992 has been reviewed through series of processes by both many of you of local and international partners in order to make it at par in accordance with global best practices and create a better and conducive atmosphere for private sector participation in the seed industry, and that is exactly one of those three things why we have to gather the private sector in this room to do the needful.
“I want to inform you that some of those innovations; the global best practices that have been introduced in the new Seed Act include modification of penalties for infringement to ensure that they are severe enough to serve as a deterrent.
“Over time we have agreed that seed is the starting-point of agriculture and the panacea for food security and every one of us recognise this fact and that is why the conversation here today is very important.
“It is important for us to make it clear that ignorance before the law makes no defense. We don’t want to catch anyone unaware because we are all in the same trade, and we want to make it easier, so we intend to have a level playing ground for everybody, and everybody should know exactly what we are doing, and by the time we come nobody will say he is not aware of the rules and regulations.”
Meanwhile, he (Ojo) pointed that, “The National Agricultural Seed Act 2019 does not permit the importation of seeds for commercial purposes, however, importation for research is highly encouraged and it is going to be a regulated system in order to do it according to the law.
“Most importantly to there is the introduction of plant variety drive to encourage private sector investment in crop breeding. Many of us are aware that the National Assembly has passed the Plant Variety Protection Law, and it is awaiting some doting and it is going to be assented to by Mr President.
“We all know the importance of seed in agricultural revolution is not in doubt, and the growth of the industry will be severely impaired without proper and structured seed system to support the agricultural industry.
He also assured stakeholders that, “As a regulator, NASC will do all within its mandate and beyond for you to succeed in the business you are doing and ours is you know the rules and regulations. We will continue to engage with you regularly by releasing the regulations capable of stimulating the continual growth of the industry.
“We are not shutting our doors to importation, and that is not what we are saying but we want all of us to understand the challenges facing the industry and we all work together to surmount all those challenges, especially in the face of global trade and regional alliance that promotes free and borderless trade among countries, regional bodies and intergovernmental activities and organisations.”
However, the NASC boss made it clear that “Any offence in the industry that attracts N500 and six months imprisonment for any infringement but with the new Act it has been increased to N1 million and one one year imprisonment for the first offender, and for a repeat offender, N2 million and two years imprisonment or both.