Despite ECOWAS trade liberalisation scheme, the problem of free movement of seeds within the ECOWAS region still persists.
This was among the challenges identified by stakeholders at the 4th edition of Seed Connect Africa 2021 Conference and Exhibition in Abuja to be hampering availability of quality seed for farmers in Nigeria.
In a communique issued at the close-out of the conference, stakeholders who were drawn from the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), IAR&T- Lead Rappoteurs, Intera Networks Ltd, SEEDAN among others jointly agreed that ECOWAS should increase advocacy among member nations to facilitate the implementation of the regional agreement.
Other challenges identified to pose threat to robust seed industry in Nigeria include the activities of seed fraudsters, low inclusion of women and youths in seed business and other various seed value chains and encroachment of inter-agencies roles.
Also crop productivity with emphasis on maize is still considered to be marginal due to low level of penetration of hybrid seeds into the system, difficulty in assessing high quality inbred lines, utilization of land races and old varieties, orchestrated by limited research fund were identified as some of the problems bedevilling the resilience of seed industry in Nigeria.
There is also low level adoption of improved seed in the seed system arising from unstructured nature of the informal market, diverse perception of farmers on seed support, to none availability of the seeds.
To address these challenges, stakeholders suggested the repositioning of NARIs and academic institutes towards addressing their major mandates, shifting from headquarter based organizations and provision of more fund for research to bridge the gap between demand and supply of quality seeds.
Stakeholders were also charged to provide ancillary services in remote seed production clusters, aggressive seed promotional programmes is recommended to be adopted by seed companies to enhance farmers’ knowledge on the potentials of the improved seed and bridge the gap between demand and supply.
They identified the role of technology in terms of varietal development as being important for the optimal agricultural productivity in the country and encouraged stakeholders in the Industry to develop profitable collaborations in achieving the goal of building a resilient and robust seed industry in Nigeria and the region at large.