Amid the rising food scarcity and acute hunger ravaging the nation, a non-governmental organisation, Syngenta Foundation For Sustainable Agriculture, Nigeria, SFSA-N, in collaboration with other AVISA partners, have organised a seed fair for over 1000 smallholder farmers to help them access quality seeds for enhanced productivity.
The Partners are International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Crops Research institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), University of Agriculture Makurdi (UAM), Center for Dry land Agriculture (CDA-BUK), Kano Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA).
The 3-day Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery Legumes and Cereals in Africa, AVISA, fair was aimed at increasing farmers’ awareness of quality seed which in turns leads to high adoption.
The event, held in selected farmers’ hub locations at Tofa and Bunkure communities in Kano State and Birni Kudu in Jigawa State respectively, came barely few weeks after the farmers under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, drummed support for the passage of three bills, the Seed Act, Plant Variety Protection, PVP, and Biosafety, respectively, now before the National Assembly.
Speaking during the event, the Country Programme Manager, SFSA-N, Isaiah Gabriel, said the mission of the foundation was to increase the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers and link them to the market.
He said, ”Our role in AVISA is to facilitate the commercialization, increase adoption of specific varieties of cowpea and sorghum and build a sustainable seed and grain ecosystem in Nigeria”.
According to him, the difficulties faced by farmers in accessing several farm inputs including seeds, led to the incorporation of AVISA crops into farmers hub inputs portfolios.
Isaiah, however, encouraged the seed companies to take advantage of the opportunity created by the farmers’ hub platform as an outlet for the sale of seeds and aggregation of grains.
Also, Prof. Lucky Omoigui, a seed system specialist from IITA, Kano Station, while giving an overview of essence of the seed fair, explained that AVISA project has two phases.
“First is the breeding and second is the seed system. Looking at the fast-growing population without a corresponding increase in the land area, there is need for improved varietal seeds to enhance crop yield. Hence, it is not necessary to increase farmland to get increase yield”, Omoigui added.
AVISA National Coordinator, Prof. Mary Yeye, in her contributions, maintained that AVISA was aimed at making available improved seed variety to improve the lives of smallholder farmers.
She stated that “This will be achieved as farmers adhere to good agronomic practices. If this is achieved, it will automatically translate to increased income and improve the standard of living of the farmers.”
Other speakers which include, Dr. A.Y Kamara, Station Head Of IITA’s, Kano; Dr. Ignatius Agaraiwa of ICRISAT; Dr Ajiegbe Hakeem, ICRISAT Nigeria Rep; Dr Michael Vabi, Social Economic, ICRISAT West Africa; Prof. Daniel Abba, a Sorghum breeder, and Prof. S.G Mohammed, a groundnut breeder from Bayero University, Kano, spoke on the essence of the seed fair and how it would enhance smallholders’ productivity and bridge the gap that exist between farmers accessing seeds and the availability of seeds.
Earlier, the the village heads commended Syngenta foundation and other AVISA partners for hosting the programme in their locations, stressing that it has brought so much seed to farmers.
Several seeds companies and research institutes were present and brought seeds both for display and sales at the seed fair. The crops brought to the seed fair include groundnut, rice, maize, sorghum, cowpea, soybeans, millet, water melon and tomatoes.
At the end of the seed fair, there was mass demand creation of awareness of the availability of high quality seed in the respective farmers’ hub. Farmers were able to have easy access to quality seed at their door steps. Smallholders farmers were able to freely interact with seed companies and value chain actors.