Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) would soon begin digital coding and labeling of certified seeds (SeedCodex) in the 2020 farming season.
Director General of the Council, Dr. Olusegun Ojo, said SeedCodex will take off in April 2020.
He said the planned coded labeling of seed containers is part of the Council’s ongoing quality seed assurance initiatives being undertaken “to ensure that dealers in substandard seeds are denied the opportunity of benefitting from dubious practices in the seeds market and ensuring that farmers get the best seeds for farming.”
The SeedCodex initiative, which is an electronic verification and authentication system introduced to enhance efficiency of the Council’s seed certification process, was launched about two months ago, the DG added.
SeedCodex, however, involves using digital codes, hidden under a scratch-able veneer, which, when sent to a designated telephone line, promptly gives feedback on the authenticity or otherwise of the seed sample in any receptacle, be it a bag, a can or any other form of container.
“The introduction of this technology will help to bring transparency into seed supply chain and expose those doing sharp practices as each set of numbers is peculiar to specific containers,” Ojo said.
The seed expert also explained that to ensure the success of the SeedCodex initiative, the Council has trained seed certification officers as well as inaugurated Seed Committees across the states and oriented the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) personnel for the purposes of ensuring that sub-standard seeds are eliminated in the seed industry.
He added that, through the collaboration of relevant agencies such as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Council would ensure that any seed container without the Codex label would be impounded and owners handed to the law enforcement agencies for prosecution.
“We are committed as a Council statutorily mandated to regulate the seed industry to ensuring that the peddlers or fake seed companies do not have a place in our seed market. The Seed Codex initiative is one of several measures and innovative strategies we are adopting to rid the Nigerian seed market of adulterated seeds.
“This is important to us because we appreciate that seed quality is crucial to having quality crops from our farmers for feeding, processing for local and global markets”, the NASC boss added
Ojo, who spoke on sundry activities of the Council, in the last few years but more specifically over the past few months after the enactment of the NASC (Amendment) Act 2019 to promote quality seeds amongst farmers nationwide, described the amended Act as a tool that has further empowered the Council in discharging its mandate in the nation’s agricultural sector.
He said provisions of Section 19 of the Act makes it a criminal offence for any seeds dealer to market any seed in the country without certification by the Council, and also, added that with the collaboration of international agencies, such as the IITA, to ensure Nigerian farmers get quality seeds and that the country has now become the sub-regional hub for quality seeds.