Nigeria has joined Ethiopia and Tanzania to a scheme called IMAGE which is aimed at aiding the adoption of improved seed variety and to promote agriculture yield across the country.
The Director General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Olusegun On, who launched the programmme, yesterday in Abuja, noted that the scheme signals the beginning of much-needed shift from the traditional and inaccurate method of measuring farmer adoption of improved variety and varieties turnover through time.
According to him, studies of improved seed adoption in Nigeria has been based on household surveys which are premised on the assumption that a farmer can accurately self-report their use of improved seed varieties.
The five-year monitoring of crop variety adoption using genotype (IMAGE) covers crop such as Maize, Cassava, Rice and cowpea in Nigeria, and covers wheat, Teff, common beans in Tanzania and Ethiopia.
“Many studies have shown that farmers’ reports of seed varieties planted, or whether the seed is improved or local are sometimes inconsistent with the DNA fingerprinting results of these varieties.
“I am happy about this IMAGE program which we have kicked off today. It is actually the right way to go, as it will help our farmers to know the variety of seeds they are planting, thereby leading to greater yield and productivity.”
Ok explained that misidentification of seed varieties have several implications for both adoption of improved technology for planting, policy formulation, food security as well as for regulatory activities, adding the program will provide useful insights and path towards accurately understanding the use of the various seeds of improved variety.
“These, we believe will help in no small measure towards accurate and targeted policy formulation regarding the utilization of seeds in Nigeria.
“We expect that the IMAGE project will provide insights and evidence for seed sector actors to enhance government agency capacity, improve stakeholders’ coordination, and lead to better investment and resource allocation decisions for varietal development and commercialization in Nigeria.
“As an organ of government charged with the responsibility of regulating the Nigerian Seed space, we pledge to support this process as much as possible,” he added.
On his part, an expert, Charles Onwuka, added that the IMAGE program is aimed at establishing, institutionalizing and scaling routine monitoring of improved variety adoption and turnover using genotyping.
He said the program would aid the standardization of agricultural bets practices as well as support adoption of modern machineries and technology to boost agricultural yield.
“Varietal selection is fundamental to ensuring farmers productivity and resilient farming. One of the most important decision farmer makes is what crop to varieties to grow.
“Misleading data can lead to incorrect conclusions about determinant of adoption which in turn can lead to intervention and support decision that do not generate expected impact,” he added.