The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) said that it is set to deploy 81,000 metric tonnes of certified seeds for the 2020 planting season in other to avert a food shortage crisis amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
Lamenting that COVID-19 is ravaging the global world and threatening to disrupt this year’s farming season, Director General of NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, said that these seeds are to be deployed through accredited seed companies and purchase for farmers.
Dr Ojo told journalists during a press conference on Wednesday that the Seed Council is doing all within its reach to ensure that seed sector related activities are sustained and promoted even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, he said, is imperative in order for Nigeria to be able to have continuous supply of adequate quantities of food for its population.
According to him, “I speak with you, the industry have available at the disposal of accredited seed companies across the country about 81,000 metric tons of certified seeds of rice, maize, sorghum, soyabean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame and potato that are ready for deployment and purchase by farmers for the production of food and raw materials for Nigerians.
“As the industry is preparing to push this quantity of certified seeds to the market, companies, like every farmer, are also preparing to go to their fields to plant so that we can have adequate quantities of seeds for the next cropping season. However, you all are aware that the CORONA VIRUS Pandemic have suddenly upset human activities and change the narratives. Going back to the field for seed sector operatives has now become a challenge as the measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus are impacting negatively on the activities of the sector like with many other sector.
“While commending the efforts of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure that agricultural stakeholders can now move about and conduct their businesses without hindrance. With the support, cooperation and understanding of the law enforcement agencies, this ministerial intervention will help agribusiness community greatly.
“The current situation has brought to the fore in a more pronounced way the importance of Agriculture to our sustainability as a nation and the huge responsibility placed on the farmers across the globe has come out more clearly. The urgent need to replace depleted food stock as a result of the massive purchase and consumption is now starring us all in the face and we can only achieve this using high quality seeds.
“Among many operations and services, the COVID-19 government measures on mobility has negatively impacted on the movement of seed companies and farmers to point of sales/agro-dealers, to informal markets, also negatively impacted is the production and supply of early generation seed and more importantly the quality assurance activities including seed field inspection and Laboratory testing”
He stated that the Seed Council will be working with various stakeholders to implement various coping actions which will help the sector to continue to function even in the midst of the crisis.