September 28, 2021

NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

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Nigeria produced 100,000 metric tonnes of seeds in 2020 – NASC

By Olayinka Olawale

The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) on Thursday,  said the country produced over 100,000 metric tonnes of seeds in 2020 for local use and West African countries.

The Director-General, NASC, Dr Phillip Ojo made this known at the unveiling of the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) ACT 2021 and Plans for Implementation on Thursday in Lagos.

The PVP Act 2021 was unveiled to stakeholders,  who called for complete process for the full implementation of the law to increase the country’s international seed trade.

He said the seeds were produced by 300 seed companies and the number would double or triple with the new PVP law in the country.

He said that Nigeria produced 50 per cent of seeds used in West Africa, adding that a lot of other West African countries depended on Nigeria to meet their seed demand.

Ojo said that for the country not to become a dumping ground for all sorts of junks through importation of seeds, Nigeria must complete this process which would make it a strong player in the global trade of seeds in the near future.

“We need the support of everyone and therefore, will continue to collaborate with partners both locally and internationally to ensure that we complete all the remaining milestones for full implementation of an efficient PVP system in Nigeria.

“One important remaining milestone to deliver is the deposition of our instrument of accession to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

“This is the only requirement left to be met by the country in our quest to become a full member of UPOV. I wish to call on all our partners and stakeholders again to join us on this advocacy journey to get this process completed.

“This process is what every other country with a serious desire to transform its agricultural sector is currently undergoing.

“Nigeria and Ghana are closely following each other in the effort to become the next new member of UPOV to join Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Tanzania and other African countries who are already members of UPOV,” he said.

Ojo said that it was important to mention that the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI), operates a PVP system that covers the territory of its 17 member states including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic.

He listed others as Chad; the Comoros; the Congo; Côte d’Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali; Mauritania, the Niger,  Senegal and Togo.

“As we celebrate the new PVP law, marking an end to the first phase of this journey, we are starting another phase, which is the journey toward full implementation of the law,” he said.

Ojo said that the importance of having a PVP law in place could not  be over emphasised.

He said that Nigerian agricultural sector transformation was a significant reason why the country should pay attention to PVP.

He said that the law would incentivise national and multinational agribusiness investments in the country.

He said that the unveiling was indeed an important milestone not just for NASC and its partners, also the Nigerian agricultural sector.

“As we all know, before now, Nigeria was one of the few countries in Africa that does not have a plant variety protection system.

“In other words, Nigeria did not have an Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) system (either a patent, effective sui generis system or combination systems) for plant varieties.

“Today, this is no longer the case. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for granting assent to this very important legislation.

“I want to also thank the members and staff of the National Assembly, who worked tirelessly and closely with us toward achieving this very important milestone.

“This missing law is now in place and requires few steps for us to begin to see the impactful transformation it will bring to the seeds sector in particular and generally on the nation’s agriculture space.

“We will begin to see on our farmers’ fields,  superior yielding, stress tolerant, disease resistant, climate smart and input efficient varieties,” he said.

Ojo noted that the group would be converging again on Abuja on Aug. 12 to meet with stakeholders from the northern part of the country for the same purpose.

The CEO of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, commended the Federal Government and the National Assembly for signing the PVP Act 2021 into law.

He said the act was signed into law following deliberations, advocacy visits, closed-door meetings, expert reviews, traditional and digital campaigns in the last few months with diverse stakeholders and the citizenry.

“As we convene to celebrate this great achievement with the NASC and discuss plans for implementation, we must act with a sense of urgency to strengthen partnerships for resilient seeds regulations through catalytic investments into the seeds sector.

“We must tackle high level insecurity for sustainable and inclusive seeds systems and agricultural transformation in Nigeria.

“There is no doubt that the implementation of PVP Act will assist to better position Nigeria to feed her growing population and equally attract foreign investments into the seed sub-sector,” he said.

According to Jaiyeola, it will as well enjoy the gains of intra- and inter-border trade opportunities in seed trade and exports.

“Indeed, hunger has been on the rise for several years in Nigeria and with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, affordability, availability and accessibility to nutritious foods is increasingly becoming difficult for 52 million food insecure Nigerians.

“It is our believe that plant breeders and farmers can offer solutions to these challenges of food insecurity.

“The NESG, hereby, reiterates our commitment to further collaboration with seed sector players in the implementation of the NASC Act, 2019 and the PVP Act, 2021,” he said. (NAN)

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