With its population projected to hit 250 million by 2030, experts say Nigeria needs good seeds to boost food production as climate change is likely to result in extreme weather, altering agricultural conditions. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Nigeria has had mixed experience in its quest to achieve food security. One of the factors constraining the country’s efforts at achieving food security has been lack of good quality seeds.
This has adversely affected efforts at increasing agricultural productivity and improving rural livelihoods in a sustainable manner.
Access to Seeds Foundation Executive Director, Ido Verhagen said poor quality of seed is reflected in the use of almost twice the normal quantity of seed per unit area by farmers to grow staples.
Verhagen, who spoke in Lagos at the launch of “Access to Seeds Index 2019 Western and Central Africa”,observed that if production of quality seed is improved, farmers will be able to economise on seeding rates.
He, however, noted that to increase food production, more efforts will be required to enhance production of varieties of seed hybrid, which have perfect crop-weather modelling.
He said focusing on affordable seeds for smallholder farmers was key. He urged for greater support for pro-poor policies on agriculture, stressing that when farmers have access to hybrid seeds they enjoy bumper harvest and have higher economic returns from their little effort.
Verhagen expressed hope that the National Agricultural Seeds Council will promote a seed system that is market-driven and capable of producing and distributing high quality and improved planting materials that are available, accessible and affordable to all farmers.
Its Access to Seeds Index 2019 – Western and Central Africa, he said, identified Nigeria as a leading seed hub in Western and Central Africa, stating that Value Seeds, a Nigerian seed producing company, came tops in rankings of new research on seed companies operating in Western and Central Africa
Like most other companies from the region, it operates exclusively in its home country, Nigeria, being outstanding for its maize and rice ‘value kits’, all-in-one input packages tailored for smallholders. Also, it provides capacity building activities, which specifically targets women and next-generation farmers. Other Nigerian companies also dominate the top half, such as Maslaha Seeds, Premier Seed and Da-Allgreen Seeds, thus showing the relative strength of the seed industry from Nigeria.
Another official, Tim Pasqualini, of Seeds Foundation Data Analyst, advised farmers to use high-quality seeds of a recommended variety as this can increase their yield.
He said farmers need to use recommended inbred varieties that are appropriate to the environment and resistant to pests and diseases in the locality.