Nigeria’s National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), says the Seed Bill signed into law on June 24 by President Muhammadu Buhari has improved major critical areas in the industry.
Mr Dahiru Rabiu, the Special Adviser on Technical Matters to Dr Olusegun Ojo, the Director-General of the NASC, made this known in an interview with Journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.
Rabiu explained the seed bill signed into law by the President had not only given room for greater private sector participation but had also promoted the uptake of quality seeds and attracted investments into the seed subsector.
He said that the bill had given legal backing to deal with issues of seed adulteration by people who were into faking of seeds adding that prior to the signing of the bill, people who sold fake and adulterated seeds only got light sentences but now fines of N1 million upward had been imposed, in addition to risking imprisonment.
Rabiu said that the signing of the bill had now given the council a temporary measure to introduce the plant variety protection.
“With this bill now in place, it gives room for another bill for plant variety protection to come in.
“By having this plant variety protection, more breeders will be encouraged to go into breeding work because they are sure that their work will be protected.
“By implication, this means that anybody who now needs your material will have to be licensed to market the variety,” he stated.
Rabiu further said that multinational seed companies were also waiting for the assent of the Plant Variety Protection Bill before they could be fully established in Nigeria adding that the reason these companies use public materials or seeds instead of their varieties was because of lack of protection.
“There are varieties which can give up to six to seven tonnes, but they are in the hands of these companies, and they cannot release them because of the lack of protection,” he said.
According to him, the president’s assent to the seed bill has provided a kind of temporary measure for those private sector research and development companies to come up with their varieties.
“Another advantage of this bill is that it provides for a third party certification.
“In this, the council can now license someone from the private sector to perform some of its functions where it does not have the capacity,” he added.
Rabiu said the third party initiative was commendable since it would reduce the overhead cost of government.
“It is a win-win situation from the side of the private sector who will be providing employment and offer a third party guaranteed activity,” he explained.