West Africa converges in Nigeria on assessing harmonised seed laws

By Ene Okwaihe, Abuja

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Seed actors from 17 countries have converged in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital for the 5th Statutory meeting of the West Africa Regional Seed and Seedling Committee (WARSSC).

The meeting was aimed at accessing the progress made in the implementation of the harmonised regional seed regulation by participating countries.

The objective for harmonizing the seed regulations is to create an environment conducive to the growth of the seed industry in the region.

The harmonised seed laws and regulations provide the right conditions for promoting seed production and quality control.

They also provide the basis for healthy competition between seed companies, promote the free movement of seeds across borders and provide farmers with access to high quality seeds.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Dr. Mohammed Umar said different seed laws operating in different countries of the region makes it difficult for cross border trade and affects growth of agri-business .

He said having a fewer market barriers to seed trade will contribute to agricultural development in the region.

“The fact that different seed related regulations operates in
individual countries makes cross border trade difficult and leaves us with fragmented market that cannot make business grow.

Nevertheless, small-scale seed enterprises are now emerging and providing quality seeds to farmers. Having access to a regional seed market with fewer barriers to seed trade would strongly contribute to
their development” 
, he stated.

Dr. Umar noted that African countries need to join hands together to boost Agricultural productivity by improving yields through improved quality seeds.

The Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council Dr. Philip Olusegun Ojo said one of the major issues the 5th statutory meeting seeks to address is the issue of bottlenecks that hinders movement of seeds within the West African region.

“One of the things we are going to iron out, one of the major issues is trying to remove the bottlenecks that hinders seed movement along the West African region”, he explained.

Dr. Ojo said it is already established that Nigeria is tackling the issue of seed quality with the introduction of the SEEDCODEX, a platform that enables farmers to check the authenticity of the seed they purchase.

ECOWAS

The ECOWAS Commissioner of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources Mr. Sekou Sangare said the regulation is to promote seed technology exchange amongst member states.

He also stated that it is linked directly to the protocol of free movement of goods, persons and services.