The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has assured farmers of access to about 81, 000 metric tonnes of certified seeds for the 2020 planting season.
Director General of NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, made the disclosure while speaking to journalists on Wednesday during a virtual media briefing held on Zoom.
Ojo during the briefing explained that the Council was doing its best towards ensuring that seed activities are sustained and promoted amid efforts to contain the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.
“The industry is preparing to push 81, 000 of certified seeds which include rice, maize, sorghum, soya bean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame, and potato, to the market and companies as farmers prepare for the planting season,” he said.
This, Ojo added, was in a bid to produce adequate quantities of seeds for the next cropping season.
He further explained that the seeds were ready for deployment and purchase by farmers for the production of food and raw materials across the country
Ojo also reiterated the need to address the current reduction in food stocks.
“The urgent need to replace depleted food stock as a result of the massive purchase and consumption is now staring us in the face and we can only achieve this using high- quality seeds,” he noted.
The NASC chief further explained that his agency would be working with relevant stakeholders to implement various coping actions which will help the sector to continue to function amid the Covid-19 crisis.
He said, “Planned actions to ensure farmers have access to seeds include: One, structuring the trade of seed and agro-inputs in designated markets and on specific days while complying with social distancing directions of relevant agencies of government at both local, state and federal levels by using a decentralized model for organizing the markets that allows quality seed and agro-inputs to be transported close to farmers, and thus reduce the distance that farmers need to travel to access inputs.
“Two, create seed sector task forces at federal, state, and local government levels to review regularly the interstate movement of essential agricultural goods and services and provide guidance on measures to be taken to responsible authorities.
“Also, to advocate and raise awareness to ensure that the services and business of seed companies and agro-input dealers are designated as essential with a view to communicating their role as essential to food security and the national economy widely through all traditional and social media platforms.”
The NASC boss also lauded the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, for his efforts towards instating the task force to oversee movement of agricultural produces amist lockdown directives across the states.
“We commend the efforts of our Honourable Minister of Agriculture towards ensuring that agricultural stakeholders can move about to conduct their businesses without hindrances.
“With the support of the law enforcement agencies, this ministerial intervention will help the agribusiness community greatly,” he said