Farmers get access to over N10bn seeds through Growth Enhancement Scheme

By Post Nigeria December 10, 2014 11:29

Farmers get access to over N10bn seeds through Growth Enhancement Scheme

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said that about N10.4 billion worth of seeds has been given to farmers under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).

The Minister, represented by his senior technical adviser, Mr Martins Fregene, said this at the National Seed Retreat held yesterday in Abuja, with the theme “Transforming the Nigeria Seed Industry in Meeting the Goals of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.”

Adesina said, “the impact of a rejuvenated seed industry has been tremendous as national food production increased by an additional 21 million metric tonnes (mmts) during 2011-2014, surpassing the 20mmts target set for 2015.”

He further mentioned that Nigeria had met its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting by halve extreme poverty two years ahead of the 2015 United Nations target while the National Food Import Bill declined by 40 per cent from $7 billion in 2011 to $4 billion in December 2013.

Adesina revealed that further to this positive development, “The number of private seed companies already licensed and those awaiting licensing for seed production and marketing rose from 11 in 2011 to 133 in 2014 and as at today about 99 seed companies are participating in the GED programme.”

He added that, “the number of direct and indirect jobs to be created by this could only be imagined and as part of commitment to the growth of the private seed sector, the Federal Ministry of Rural Development (FMARD), under the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), provided credit guarantee for the seed companies to access financial lending from commercial banks for seed buy-back from their out growers at single digit interest rate, even as bank lending rose to N6 billion in 2014.”

On the part of the National Agricultural Seeds Council, Acting Director General, Dr Phillip Olusegun Ojo said that the success recorded in the seeds sector was not without challenges including dearth of plant breeders, inadequate seed testing facilities in both public and private sector, inadequate infrastructure for seed processing, slow development and promotion of hybrid in most crops as well as lack of Intellectual Property Rights(IPR).

He emphasised that, “It is pertinent to note that high quality seed has been recognised as the most important input in crop production as it is not only the cheapest means of increasing yield but also critical in raising the efficiency of other Agricultural inputs used in crop production.”