The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), has called for community policing to assist the council get rid of adulterated and fake seeds in the market.
The director general, NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, who made the call recently in Abuja during the NASC Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) meeting, said the council would collaborate with all the relevant agencies, ministries and department to ensure that it achieved its mandate of making improved and quality seed to farmers timely.
Dr Ojo noted that the workshop was to further sensitise and reinstitute the NASC-IBC set up by the council in 2016 to ensure the proper handling, detection and tracking of quality seeds in the country.
He said the business of getting rid of adulterated seeds is a collective effort which the communities are in the best position to report those engaged in such acts to the council for proper action to be taken.
Pointing out the need for sophisticated skills and infrastructure to develop transgenic seeds, Dr Ojo also noted that same amount of investment in human capital development is also needed to regulate the output.
“Against the backdrop of our limited exposure and abysmal low support for capacity development, NASC is aware that biotech products are intensively regulated worldwide.
“The Committee is therefore called to come up with substantial and sustainable road map to handle the concerns over trade in GM seeds for safe handling by all stakeholders without ill consequences to our invaluable ecosystem,” he noted.
In his address, the chief executive officer of National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Dr Rufus Ebegba, highlighted the need for the public consciousness about biosafety.
He explained that that the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has the mandate of all new verity of seeds in the country be it Genetically Modified or not.
He said they are looking forward to a situation where some Genetically Modified seeds will be coming into the market, hence the need to train NASC officials to know how they can identify, handle and assure the safety of seeds in the market.
The NBMA boss noted that after his Agency has certified the safety of some GM crops, and the NASC is expected to certify and approve, after due diligence on the quality of the seeds, to grant permit for the seeds that meet national standards.
He acknowledged the roles of the other agencies, such as Custom Services and Quarantine Services who are saddled with the responsibility of securing the bothers from infiltration of unsafe GMOs.
According to him, “Synergy is very critical in a government, because this ministries and agencies have points of convergence; like the Nigerian Customs Services, they are the major border agency and we need to assist the agency to enforce a situation whereby we don‘t allow GMOs, particularly grains and other large consignment of GM production in to the country without our approval.
“The NASC has the mandate of all new verity of seeds in the country and we are now looking at a situation where some Genetically Modified seeds will be coming into the market so they need to be properly equipped to know how they can handle this seeds to ensure that the best quality of such seeds are what would be sold to the Nigerian farmers,” he added.