Nigeria currently needs an additional 349,227 metric tonnes of certified seeds to meet the demand of farmers in the 2018/2019 farming season. The quantity, according to the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), is worth over N130 billion.
Speaking at the just concluded seed conference in Abuja, Dr. Philip O. Ojo, Director General of the council, noted that despite the large volumes of seed produced, serving the sub-region, the country was still experiencing wide gap between supply and actual requirement.
“In 2018, the total certified seeds produced for seven major crops (maize, rice, sorghum, cowpea, groundnut, millet and soybean) was 72,951mt, but the actual requirement was 422,229mt, leaving a deficit of 349,227mt worth over N130 billion (USD 450 million).
“By the year 2020, the requirement of certified seeds will be 441,800mt which is approximately N143 billion (USD 472 million), this is a huge business opportunity waiting to be tapped,” he emphasised.
Dr. Ojo also stressed that by the end of 2019, the total value of certified seeds requirement would be valued at N423 billion (USD 1.3 billion), adding that “this is huge enough space for companies to compete for.”
He was particularly emphatic that the total shortfall in 2018, which was the gap to bridge, runs into billions of naira for a breeder, foundation and certified seeds.
For many smallholder farmers like Mr. Audu Jatua who spoke with Daily Trust at the venue of the exhibitions, some of the seeds were still very expensive for them to afford.
“If you look at the prices seed companies offer here, you will require a lot of money to buy seed that can take two hectares. Very few smallholder farmers will save that can of money,” he said.
For example, “a bag of 25kg certified seed for Faro 52 they said is N12,000 and you need 100kg for one hectare, that is about N48,000. Many of us at the time of planting don’t have that kind of money for seed alone,” said Mr. Jatua.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, 82.8% of seeds used by Nigerian farmers in 2016 were sourced from the informal seed sector, which is, of course, cheaper for many smallholder farmers.
Apart from the grains, and tubers, another important sector is the vegetable seeds.
The DG of NASC said “the global vegetable seed market was valued at USD 8,452.5 million worldwide and USD 181.3 million in Africa as at 2017.
“Nigeria has a good climate and the market but the seed system is still grossly untapped. Over 80% of vegetable seeds traded are still imported,” he said.
But Mr. Richard Olafare, President of the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) was of the opinion that the Nigeria seed producers have done very well.
“We are proud to say our association is the largest national seed association in Africa and we render quality service which contributes to the feeding of over 300 million mouths in Nigeria and West Africa.
“We started modestly with the capacity to produce only about 5,000mt of quality seeds about 12 years ago but today we have the capacity to produce over a 100,000mt of quality seeds.
Mr Olafare said the over 180,000mt of assorted seeds was supplied to the states during the GES programme in Nigeria, but many questioned that as reports indicated many of the seeds did not germinate after planting.