Stakeholders harp on deployment of ICT innovations to fast track seed trade

Stakeholders at the just concluded Seed Connect Africa conference and exhibition, with the theme titled: “Partnership for a resilient and robust seed industry in Nigeria,” held in Abuja recently has called for the development and deployment of more ICT innovations to fast track seed trade, varietal performance mapping, seed tracking and sharing market information services.

The participants at the conference in a communique on Thursday said the role of ICT in the development of the seed industry is important.

The conference said crop productivity with emphasis on maize is still considered to be marginal, due to low level of penetration of hybrid seeds into the system.

Adding that 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.

According to the communique, repositioning of NARIs and Academic Institutes towards addressing their major mandates, shifting from headquarter based organizations and provision of more fund for research will bridge the gap between demand and supply of quality seeds.

“Low level adoption of improved seed is still paramount in the seed system. Possible reasons were multifaceted, ranging from unstructured nature of the informal market, diverse perception of farmers on seed support, to none availability of the seeds. Provision of ancillary services in remote seed production clusters, aggressive seed promotional programs were 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.

“Cassava was recognized as playing significant role in agriculture, but there is a low level of private sector interest in the seed system of the crop, due to high reproducibility of the propagating materials for generations before recurring to the source.

“Also, varietal mixup during transportation of propagating materials poses a threat to the crop production. The collaborative effort of NASC to have develop the cassava seed tracker was applauded. Seed companies were enjoined to develop interest in this novel segment of seed industry,” the communique reads

The stakeholders also identified utilization of high-quality seeds for successful agricultural productivity not to be exclusive, as it involves other complementary inputs and technical assistance.

The conference also raised concern on the challenges of fake seeds, even as it recommended the introduction of seed codex, to mitigate seed faking in Nigeria and that this should be recommended to be introduced to other countries in the region

“The problem of free movement of seeds within the ECOWAS region is still persistent despite ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme. It was advised that ECOWAS should increase advocacy among member nations to facilitate the implementation of the regional agreement. Member countries were advised to communicate challenges encountered in the seed trade to the commission. All complaints should be passed through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for effective resolutions.

“The low inclusion of women and youths in seed business and other various seed value chains was observed. It was suggested that more youths and women should be allowed access to finance and other productive resources in 0

 of seed business,” the participants said.