FG to establish first W/Africa's seed industry centre

Thursday, October 20, 2016

THE National Agricultural Seeds Council, NASC, has disclosed plan to establish first Centre of Excellence for Seed Industry, CoESI, to boost research and production of various seeds for farmers in the country.

This was stated by the Director General, NASC, Dr. Philip Ojo, in his welcome address during the visit of two senior officers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Dr. Lavar Kumar and Dr. Hemant Nitturkar, at NASC technical headquarters, Sheda, Abuja.

The two representatives from IITA were at the NASC's headquarters to make presentations on how the proposed CoESI, would boost cassava production and value with modern technology that will generate huge revenues for farmers, processors, and boost food security.

According to Ojo the centre will be of immense benefit to the seed industry and grow the agricultural sector, if it kicks off.

He also disclosed that the project will cost about N400 million, which will be in two phases, and already Council has started canvassing for funds from development partners.

He said: "We propose the establishment of NASC-CoESI – Nigeria, a strategic centre for seed industry development and seed business incubation, to enable both public and private individuals and smallholder seed companies to bootstrap themselves to help solve food insecurity.

"We have resolved to build a strong centre which will be the hub of seed regulation in West Africa because there is no CoESI in the sub-region, and this is going to be number one and first of its kind. We are resilient and focused to put in place a world standard centre, which will readily make available seeds to farmers.

"In doing so, they will acquire the financial means to educate their children, have access to quality healthcare, and purchase technology to enter the global digital society."

According to him the centre will add value and more knowledge for people who want to embark on career development in the seed industry.

"The Centre of Excellence will enhance our current industry manpower gap and conduct diploma and certificate programs in Seed Science and Technology. NASC-CoESI will offer short courses for public and private sector experts in seed certification, seed testing, seed quality control, seed storage and handling, seed business management and provide practical field hands on training on seed field establishment and management plus demonstrations' and promotional activities", he said.

Meanwhile, the NASC's boss also unveiled the Cassava Seed Tracker System, CSTS, which according to him will help check the spread of fake cassava seeds, and could be used to guard the cassava value chain.

"The cassava tracker is very important instrument for us to be able to seed cassava and trace it from the beginning to the end. It will look at the whole value chain.

"Particularly, I can sit down in my office and see what is happening in the value chain, the number of hectares inspected, and that is also very important aspects of the cassava tracker. We want to even go beyond cassava, and that will be for every crop, which we are talking about e-certification of all crops", he stated.

On the CSTS, Dr. Lava Kumar said the new system will enable NASC develop high cassava seeds for farmers.

"The development of technology in cassava seed monitoring, cassava seed tracker are being tailored in monitoring quality seed production and improve the quality of the seed" Kumar added.

In his explanation about the CSTS, Dr. Hemant Nitturkar said, the innovation will bridge the yield gap causing huge losses of millions of dollars and give farmers value for money.