By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint an honest and focused Board Chairman for National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in view of the strategic position of the seed industry in the attainment of food security in Nigeria.
The Imo State Chairman of AFAN Dr. Ayo Enwerem who made the call in a telephone interview explained that seed is indispensable for agricultural productivity as the sector must be regulated transparently.
Enwerem observed that the Seed Act 2019 provides that a board with a chairman duly appointed by the President should oversee the activities of the NASC.
He noted that the board does not comprise the Minister of Agriculture and its Chairman is to be appointed by the President.
He said, “the caveat that the Chairman is to be appointed upon the recommendation of Honourable Minister of Agriculture must be ousted by Mr President at this time because since the assumption of office of the current Minister of Agriculture,” he has not attended any NASC board meeting to know how the seed system really works and is therefore, not qualified to recommend a chairman suited to the position.
“The laughable incident of meeting with some Chinese entrepreneurs seeking to bring seed rice is testimony to the costly mistake that could be made by such a person if allowed to participate in the appointment of the Board Chairman.
“The Chinese actually brought hybrid rice seeds which when planted and harvested become grains and therefore not useable as seeds sustainably.
“The recent assent of the PVP Bill given by Mr President is the safeguard our researchers and breeders have been waiting for to vigorously embark on building a veritable seed system.
“That coupled with the Seed Act 2019 are the building blocks required to give seed development in Nigeria the optimum push required to grow appreciably.
“Lest I forget, the current Minister of Agriculture said soon after being appointed that there was no seed in Nigeria because he bought his own seed from the Niger Republic.
“Let it also be understood that the Seed Act 2019 explicitly says the Minister will chair the meeting pending the appointment of the Chairman of the board by the President and if the Minister is absent, the members will choose from among themselves a knowledgeable person to chair the meeting,” he said.
He argued that AFAN, the largest beneficiary of the seed system is represented by the duly elected National President and no one can change that.
Commenting further on the derogatory remarks made by the Minister of Agriculture, Enwerem quoted him to have said, “there was no seed in Nigeria” at Frazier Suites, the venue of a workshop organised by Nigerian Economic Summit Group in collaboration with NASC.
He said, “This is very insulting because SEEDAN will tell you that the whole of the West African coast relies on Nigeria for seeds!
“While it is not my place to compel government to take any decision but as a stakeholder in Nigeria’s Agriculture I am duty bound to offer this advice,… it is either taken or thrown away.”