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Nigeria unveils 1st seed diagnostics testing lab as 2018 seed fair ends

Ogbeh sets fire to some of the confiscated fake seeds in the market

Last week at Sheda, Abuja, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) organized the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmers’ Field Day, apparently to showcase what it has achieved as 2018 gradually draws to an end.

NASC also used the event to officially launch its first molecular seed diagnostics testing laboratory for the country.

Since 2016, Fera- an international centre for interdisciplinary investigation and problem-solving across plant and bee health, crop protection, sustainable agriculture, food and feed quality and chemical safety in the environment, has been working with the seed council to design and make the laboratory operational.

With this laboratory, which was designed by Fera specialists in pest and disease diagnostics and funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, the seed council will provide a better seed certification overhaul for the seed industry.

According to Fera’s Julian Smith, who attended the show in Abuja on behalf of the organisation, the facility can serve a multitude of seed tests for cassava, tomato, maize, Irish potato, yams, sweet potato.

Mr Smith added that the importance of seed certification was key to preventing the entry and spread of major seed-borne diseases such as Cassava Brown Streak Disease and Maize Lethal Necrosis that, if introduced to West Africa, it could devastate its agriculture.

While commissioning the laboratory, the Minister Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh, lauded the effort of NASC to making good quality certified seed not only for Nigerian farmers’, but also the wider region of West Africa.

With flood disaster fresh in the hearts of many stakeholders at the events, they spoke of the need to develop improved varieties to meet the emerging problems such as the flood disaster witnessed this year.

Richard Olafare, who is the president of Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria, called on the government to immediately intervene with new technology in view of the serious flood destruction and damage to farms across the country.

Reacting to the call, Chief Ogbeh expressed concern over the situation, noting that the country might face a food crisis if the farmers who lost their crops to flood across the states are not supported to plant again for the dry season.

At the Seed Fairground, a lot of seed companies whose products are certified by the council showcased their new technologies, ranging from seed, agrochemicals, and seedlings.

Fruits and Veggies Company from Jos came with three varieties of Irish potatoes: Connet, Jelly and Marabel. The three varieties are said to be doing well in the growing belts of the country.

Other seed companies like Premier Seeds, Syngenta, and a host of others were on hand to showcase their products.

Also, research organizations like the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria brought to the show, lots of their new and old technologies that will interest stakeholders.

Some of these technologies are new varieties of grains, yam, cassava, and vegetables which increase tonnage and productivities of farmers.

Despite the attendance of some of the agric private sector actors, government departments, donors agencies, and the members of the diplomatic community, one expected to see the over 200 seed companies and entrepreneurs which the council gave licence to.

Such a show should have been compulsory for them and held in a place that will attract more participants.

Secondly, the council did not do massive public awareness campaign, which was key to raising awareness for such a specialize event that looks at just seed-something observers said the council need to strengthen.

Source: Daily Trust

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