The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in a bid to implement the new seed act signed into law recently by President Muhammadu Buhari, is deploying smart, tamper proof and enhanced security certification tags which will replace the old seed certification tags.
The new initiative of the agency is to ensure that farmers have access to quality seeds in 2019.
Addressing a press conference at the national headquarters of the Council at Sheda in Abuja, NASC Director General, Dr Philip Ojo, said the security certification tags will sanitise the seed space in the country.
He also warned those still involved in illegal seed business to desist from it as they were doing it at their own peril.
“With this innovation under the new seed act, which is an initiative launched with support from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, (AGRA), and the United States Agency for International Development, (USAID) under the umbrella of the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa, (PIATA), allow the Council to give first-hand information on the authenticity of the seeds farmers purchase from any vendor.
The DG said “The tags will portion that could be scratched with serialized electronic codes which the farmer will be able through SMS to a dedicated NASC number in our office here from where he will receive immediately information on the genuineness of the seed he is purchasing
“The initiative was introduced to enhance the efficiency of our quality assurance mechanism with the deployment of a tamper evident traceability system that allow for farmers and all seed users henceforth to be able to reach the Council to get first-hand information on the authenticity of the seeds they purchase from any vendor or source across the country through SMS verification code.
“The NASC certification tags will now have a scratchable portion with special serialized electronic codes which the farmer will be able through SMS to send to a dedicated NASC number in our office here from where he will receive immediately information on the genuineness of the seed he is purchasing. Seed producers on their own part will be rest assured that their product can no longer be counterfeited as the NASC tags issued to them cannot be faked by unscrupulous elements.
“The above is just one of the many innovations which the new seed act will allow NASC to introduce to further sanitize the Nigerian seed space. We therefore call on our existing strategic partners and interested ones to come all out to support the Council in its bid to reposition the Agricultural Sector for better productivity and efficiency through the provision of high quality improved seeds,” he said.
According to Ojo, the law governing the country’s seed industry was enacted to ensure farmers get the best of seeds for a bumper harvest that would help the economy and also to create wealth for themselves as agribusiness people, hence the stringent measures that would curtail and eradicate the menace of fake and adulterated seeds that have ruined the finances of farmers over the years.
He said, “The story is no longer the same as henceforth , anyone who contravenes the provisions of the seed law as a first offender will be sentenced to jail for a period of one year or pay a fine of one million Naira or both subject to the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction.
“A repeated offender will be liable to imprisonment for two years or pay a fine of two million naira or both after which the licences of the unrepentant offenders will be withdrawn or such offenders are suspended form operating as a seed enterprise.
“The NASC therefore wishes to sound loudly a note of warning to anyone or agency who have form the habit of engaging in any form of seed business without recourse to the Seed Act to desist from such henceforth,” he warned.