Perm.Sec. TasksStakeholders On Availability Of Improved Seeds To Farmers

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Sunny Echono, on Tuesday urged stakeholders in the seed sub-sector to address the problem of inadequate improved seeds facing farmers.Echono made this call at the stakeholders’ workshop on community seed production, organised by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in Abuja.The permanent Secretary, who was represented by a director in the ministry, Mr Damilola Eniayeju, said that one of the most critical problems facing farmers in the rural communities was lack of access to quality seeds.He said that farmers had no option rather than to obtain seeds from previous season harvest or purchase grains from the market to be used as seed.“Most cases, such grains used as seed resulted to low yield and made farmers poorer,” he said.According to him, the situation most often is brought about by lack of awareness of availability of improved seed varieties that are high yielding, disease and drought tolerant.He added that it could be as a result of poor distribution network by seed companies and Agro dealers in rural communities that denied farmers access to quality seeds.Echono appreciated NASC for bringing stakeholders together in finding a way of addressing the challenges of seeds affecting the sub-sector in order to boost agricultural productivity.“Through Community Seed Programme, the problem of low agricultural productivity resulting from the use of grains by subsistence farmers in the rural farming communities can be greatly reduced.“The programme also has the potential of serving farmerswithin close proximity on the benefits derivable from the use of improved seed,” he said.He hoped that the workshop would achieve its objectives of complementing community based seed production programme, knowing the important of seed in achieving food security in the country.In his address, Dr Olusegun Ojo, the Director General, NASC, said that the whole idea of the workshop was to bring all stakeholders in the Community Seed Programmetogether in order to streamline their activities.He added that a lot of development partners are out there to ensure adequate support for community projects.“Community Seed Programme is simply the production ofseed at the community level for easy diffusion.“We want to disabuse the mind of farmers in the former sector that the programme is complementary.“We discovered that a lot of research result does not get to the grassroots.“But this programme will ensure that seeds become available at the right time to farmers in the rural areas.“The development partners are out there to identify these communities to work with.“The seed council is here to control their activities and ascertain the quality of what they are producing is actually good,” he added.Ojo, however, called on all stakeholders to key in to this project, brainstorm and share experiences for further improvements.He expressed optimism that the modalities and guidelines for the operation of the Community Based Seed Production Programme (CBSP) would have been fashioned out at the end of the workshop. (NAN)

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