By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Nigeria’s quest to be self-sufficient in food production will remain a mirage so long as farmers continue to plant grains as seeds, an expert has said.
Mr. Brighton Karume, Managing Director, ECOBasic Seeds Company Limited, made the observation at the weekend in Kaduna when interacting with a group of farmers.
“The federal government has a robust agricultural policy framework and a conducive environment to ensure the country becomes self-sufficient in food production, but government efforts and good will are not recording the appropriate results because only a very few farmers plant quality and healthy seeds, while others plant grains that should be meant for consumption,” he said.
According to him, most farmers consider purchasing seeds from accredited seed companies to be a waste of money, and unfortunately, what they plant every year and store for the next planting season is grains, the purity of which is questionable and the germination rate cannot be guaranteed.
“It is very important to educate farmers on the differences between seeds and grains. Grains are meant to be used for food, so they are not treated and there is no need to pay attention to their germination rate.
On the other hand, seeds are not meant to be eaten because they are treated to protect them from diseases and pest attacks and are meant to be planted,” he added.
Karume noted that ECOBasic was established to bridge a vital gap in the nation’s seed sub-sector, and in its two years of operation, the company has become one to reckon with in the production of crucial foundation seeds needed by seed companies in the country to produce certified seeds for farmers.
“ECOBasic serves as an important link between research institutions that have the mandate to develop/produce, and release breeder seeds, and seed companies that produce certified seeds and sell them to farmers.
The absence of intermediaries like ECOBasic Seed Company in the Nigerian seed sector is blamed for the proliferation and adulteration of seeds and the existence of fake seeds in the country,” he said.
He noted that ECOBasic Seeds Limited was established to act as a game changer for the whole of West Africa’s seed sector, and that the company had taken the task with all the seriousness it deserved.
“We are uniquely positioned to make the highest quality hybrid seeds available to seed companies for distribution to farmers. If a quarter of maize farmers in Nigeria plant hybrid seeds in the coming planting season, Nigeria’s quest for self-sufficiency in maize production will receive a significant boost,” he said.