In a significant stride towards improving agricultural practices and ensuring food security in Nigeria, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has initiated a comprehensive two-day training program under the Program for Seed System Innovation of Vegetatively Propagated Crops in Africa (PROSSIVA) project. This training focuses on the theme of “Identification and Training of Licensed Seed Inspectors for Vegetatively Propagated Crops (VPCs) Certification.”
Dr. Khalid Ishiak, the Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), expressed his excitement in contributing to a critical educational program for stakeholders involved in potato production.
“The National Agricultural Seed Council has been dedicated to innovating and collaborating with partners, and this latest effort seeks to address critical issues around potato certification. Potato production in Nigeria has seen increasing investment and establishing a strong assurance protocol is therefore non-negotiable”. He said.
Dr. Bankole Osho-Lagunju, representing NASC and leading the PROSSIVA project, passionately highlighted the critical role of NASC in regulating the seed industry. He emphasized that any seed not bearing the NASC logo and stamp could be adulterated, a grave concern in Nigeria.
He also stated that vegetatively propagated crops like yam, cassava, potatoes, and bananas pose unique challenges in achieving formal seed certification. The PROSSIVA project addresses these challenges, with a special focus on crops like potatoes and bananas.
“The project aims to create a decentralized system for seed quality assurance by training licensed inspectors, also known as third-party certification officers. This initiative will bring certification and field inspection closer to the farmers, a move set to ease the burden on seed companies.
The choice of Plateau State for this initiative is strategic, given its prominence in potato cultivation. Collaboration with sister projects and organizations, such as the CIP center for potato and GIZ, enhances the project’s impact”.He said.
“Under the collaborative project, NASC has already trained four young individuals. Now, they are expanding their efforts with the “Self Compliance” program, adding six more trainees. The goal is to scale up the training and equip a total of ten inspectors. This commitment to training reflects NASC’s dedication to ensuring seed quality and improving agriculture in Nigeria”.he added.
Addressing the issue of adulterated seeds, Dr. Bankole emphasized that any seed not meeting the minimum certification standards by NASC and lacking a third-party guarantee is considered adulterated.
“NASC continues to conduct surveillance and sensitization efforts to combat the presence of such seeds in the market.However, challenges like insecurity have affected seed production in Nigeria. In 2019, insecurity caused a significant reduction in seed production, disrupting access to crucial seed-producing regions”. Dr Lagunju stated.
Mr. Ishiaku Jilemsam, Program Manager of the Plateau Agricultural Development Program (PADP), expressed the impact on farmers, noting that fake products often lead to disappointing yields. Mr. Jilemsam stressed the importance of certified seeds, which can significantly enhance agricultural productivity.
He further proposed collaboration between PADP and NASC to train extension agents, even if they are not licensed inspectors. This collaboration would empower them to identify issues and report them promptly. Additionally, the program intends to register all input dealers, ensuring that farmers receive certified inputs, including fertilizers, seeds, and hybrids.
“This collaborative effort between NASC, PROSSIVA, and PADP signifies a significant step toward improving agricultural practices, ensuring that farmers have access to high-quality seeds, and ultimately strengthening food security in Nigeria. It’s a story of dedication, collaboration, and a shared commitment to the prosperity of Nigerian agriculture and its hardworking farmers”.He said.