Ido Verhagen

Ido Verhagen is the executive director of the Access to Seeds Index. Since its start in 2013, the Index has grown out to a unique resource for information on how the seed industry is supporting smallholder farmer productivity, one of the main targets on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. The 2019 Index includes an evaluation of 60 seed companies across 65 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Prior to starting up the Access to Seeds Index, Ido worked as a sustainability advisor for Dutch multinationals like Philips, Heineken and KLM.

Dr. Ebegba Rufus Eseoghene

Dr. Rufus Ebegba Hails from Delta State, Married with children. He is the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency. He holds a B.Sc.(Agriculture), M.Sc.(Environmental Biology) and subsequently awarded a Ph.D (Biodiversity). He also attended various short courses in Administration, biodiversity Conservation, Biotechnology and Biosafety. He began his career working as Administrative Officer at the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies, Abuja 1990-1996. He moved to FEPA, where he worked as the Principal Environmental Scientist 1996-1999. He was later appointed Assistant Chief Environmental Scientist at the Federal Ministry of Environment 1999-2005; was Chief Environment Scientist 2005-2008; Assistant Director 2008-2012; and Deputy Director 2012-2015 before being appointed the Director General/CEO of the National Biosafety Management Agency. He has over 27 years of working experience in the areas of Administration, Biosafety Management, Biodiversity Conservation and sustainable utilization of renewable natural recourses, Strategic planning in Biosafety and Biodiversity. Currently, he is also the National Project Coordinator, UNEP-GEF National Biosafety Framework Implementation Project in Nigeria; the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety National Focal Point for Nigeria; a member of the Expert Committee of West African Biosafety Regulation and a former member of the Ad-hoc Technical Expert Group on Biosafety Risk Assessment and Risk Management of the Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations.. He has special Competence in the following fields:  Administration,  Biosafety Regulation(Risk Assessment/Management,) and policy  BCH Administration  Biodiversity Conservation (National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan , Wetlands Conservation, Bio-prospecting  Environmental Impact Assessment  Economic Value of Natural Resources  Natural Resources Development and Utilization.  Expert in development and implementation of Projects.  Community leadership Dr. Ebegba was involved in the development of Nigeria National Biotechnology Policy, Nigeria National Biosafety Framework(Biosafety Policy and Policy) under the UNEP/GEF Development of National Biosafety Framework Project; the Nigeria National Biosafety Risk Assessment Analysis Framework; the Nigeria National Biosafety Application Management guidelines, Draft National Biosafety Regulations, National Biosafety Containment Guidelines, National Biosafety Communication Strategy and the last edition of the Nigeria Biosafety Guidelines, to name a few. Dr. Ebegba has participated in organizing and attended many workshops and meetings. He has worked closely with the UN and African Union Biodiversity, biosafety systems and Program for Biosafety systems. He has over 100 Various Publication on Biosafety, Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Management. He has travelled widely internationally. He has received awards for hard work and service to humanity.

Mrs. Karima I. Babangida

Mrs. Karima I. Babangida, is Director, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension (FDAE).  In this capacity she provides leadership in agricultural extension development and delivery in the country.  Her duties also involve gender mainstreaming, policy formulation, development and implementation of programs on empowerment of women, youth and vulnerable groups in agriculture.

She is the Agric Focal Lead for Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria (GWIN), a special intervention programme targeting economic empowerment of women financed by the Federal Government.  She led the team that prepared the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) under technical assistance of FAO and served as National Project Coordinator for the FAO assisted Strengthening Capacity to Implement the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP).

Prior to this assignment, she worked in Agro-Processing and Marketing Department where she served as the Assistant Coordinator of Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) Initiative, a continent-wide Japanese Government assisted programme that produced the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) document that laid the foundation for the Rice Transformation Agenda of the nation.  She served as the Assistant Coordinator for the Rice Post Harvest, Processing and Marketing Project (RIPPMAP) in Nasarawa and Niger States funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).  She also worked with the Japanese Government Consultant to conduct a countrywide study on rice prior to the commencement of RIPPMAP.  Before then, she worked in Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) on Japanese KR-2 Project, Conservation Tillage Farming Rice Box Project, and National Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS).  She served as the Secretary for Presidential Initiative on Rice from 2001 to 2003 and represented the Ministry in the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Rice Price Benchmarking for 5 years. Mrs. Karima I. Babangida is an agronomist and alumnus of Ahmadu  Bello University Zaria.

Hemant Nitturkar

Hemant Nitturkar is an entrepreneur, a business mentor and a tri-sector professional with multi-domain, multi country work experience. Over the past 2 ½ decades, he has worked in agriculture, IT and financial services sectors and in the government, private sector and civil society organisations. He is a two-time recipient of the Governor’s Gold Medals from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad for his academic achievement in BSc (Agriculture) and MSc (Genetics and Plant Breeding). He holds a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance from Securities Institute of Australia.

He strongly feels the world community has a window of maximum 15 years to create an ecosystem that can provide meaningful economic opportunities for the teeming youth, else we face a demographic catastrophe instead of enjoying a demographic dividend.  Hence, he is a strong proponent of the UN SDGs. His personal life mission is to create positive impact in the lives of at least one million families unknown to him.


He is currently the Project Director for a CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) project called Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System in Nigeria (BASICS) based in International Institute for Tropical Agriculture(IITA), a CGIAR Organisation, based in Ibadan, Nigeria. The project has interventions that contribute towards SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 17.

Folusho Olaniyan OON



Folusho started her career in the food industry as a management trainee with A.G.Leventis Nigeria. Plc. in 1988. She resigned from Leventis foods as Head of Sales and Marketing in 2005, to take up an appointment with UTC Nig Plc and later became Managing Director/CEO in 2007;a post she held  till 2012 Folusho collaborated with the Federal ministry of Agriculture and rural development  on the Agricultural transformation agenda, to pioneer the commercialization of 20% cassava flour inclusion in bread and pastries. She resigned to set up Contact Consulting Nig. Ltd; a Research, Business advisory, Marketing support services and investment promotion organization, focused on Agricultural value chain development and investments in 2013.

She served as consultant/ market analyst to Partnerships In Niger Delta PIND project on the Cassava scoping study 2014. She also served as strategy consultant to CAVA Cassava Adding Value for Africa; a Bill and Melinda Gates funded project, headquartered at the Federal University of Agriculture , Abeokuta, Nigeria ,in 2015.

Folusho served as an expert consultant to Dalberg Global advisors on the IDH Market study on commercial opportunities in commercial cassava production in Nigeria in 2015. Folusho also served as Business Development and Marketing consultant/Adviser to MADE (Market For Development in The Niger Delta), funded by DFID through DAI UK. Folusho also served as a consultant to Palladium Group United Kingdom, on the West Africa Food Markets Pilot Programme, which launched a £1 million pounds  grant in 2016. Folusho served on the judging panel of the Rockefeller foundation Cassava Yieldwise $1million dollars Challenge set up in 2016 to promote innovation in cassava post harvest practices.

Folusho is a member of the project advisory committee of BASICS-(Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava In Nigeria) , a 4 year project (2016-2019) funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and coordinated by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural research CGIAR’s Research program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas RTB. The Project partners include Food and Environment Research Agency of the United Kingdom, and International institute of Tropical Agriculture IITA.

Folusho served as a consultant to the World economic forum Grow Africa project in 2016, on the scoping study and data assessment of maize , soya bean,and coffee sectors in Tanzania,Ghana, and Ethiopia.

In 2017 Folusho served as primary consultant  to Grow Africa, in the compilation of Rice fact sheets for ECOWAS countries in preparation for the AGRA investment forum in Abidjan, Cote D’ivoire. Grow Africa is a partnership platform cofounded by the World Economic Forum, that seeks investments and transformational change in African agriculture. This platform has broad support of USAID, and works closely with African governments and the African Union. Contact consulting Nigeria is the conference partner to Agrainnovate West Africa, funded by Informa group UA. Contact Consulting Nigeria is also the partner to Nigerian Agricultural seed council on the Seedconnect Africa project.


Folusho is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, and a member of the Institute of Directors. She holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and a professional postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Cookham, United Kingdom. She has attended two fellowship programs of the United States Department of Agriculture USDA, on Women in Agriculture, and snack food development at the Iowa state University USA between 2015 and 2017 earning her a  Cochran fellowship of the United States Department of Agriculture USDA. Folusho is a member of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, USA.

Folusho is the current program Director of Agra innovate West Africa, an annual conference funded by Informa Group UK and UAE. Informa is the world’s largest publicly quoted exhibition company. The Agrainnovate agribusiness trade show and conference is an annual knowledge sharing and business partnerships/ deal making platform attended by 3,000+ visitors from over 20 countries across the globe. Testimonies of economic empowerment and sustainable partnerships have accrued from beneficiaries of this project.

In recognition of Folusho’s contributions to the Nigerian food industry, she was awarded National honours of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in September 2014 by the President and Commander in Chief  of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Dr. Lava Kumar

Dr. Lava Kumar is the Head of the Germplasm Health Unit, and Virology and Molecular Diagnostics Unit at IITA. His research programs are focused on (a) protecting germplasm health from pathogens and pests; (b) tackling virus diseases of IITA crops (cassava, yam, banana/plantain, cowpea, soybean, and maize), cacao, and vegetables; (c) developing convenient diagnostic tools for identification of pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and phytoplasma), pests and mycotoxins (aflatoxins); and (d) conducting training courses and workshops in plant disease diagnostics and control, and also higher degree training, leading graduate and postgraduate students to M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees

Hadiza Yaro

NAME: Hadiza Yaro
SPECIALIZATION: Agronomist and a Rural Developer
She is the Business Development Manager. Represent EWS as a contact for distributor(s), develop new markets for EWS, Forecasting collect detail MI as well as genetic material, organize field days, Analyze markets. With – Master in Development Studies (MDS) – Nigeria Defense Academy, Kaduna, -Master in Agronomy (MSc. Agronomy) First Class -Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Bachelor of Agriculture (B. Agric.) Second Class Upper – Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Distinction – National Teachers Institute., Certificate Project Management – KIT Royal Tropical Institute (Netherlands).Involved in Rural Development and Value Chain Development. Engage in setting up vegetable farms for sustainable farming with the use of improved seeds, technologies like, mulching, use of nets, pheromones, and drip irrigation installation across Nigeria. Thousands of farmers were trained. Facilitated and have a good understanding on cross cutting issues such as gender, HIV / AIDS and Nutrition. Promotion of women involvement in agribusiness cluster and value chain development. Support to Business Support Services, farmers organizations, traders, processors etc. Involve in project activities and Support to farmers organizations, traders, processors etc. in the elaboration of Business Plans. Collaborated with the several projects (USIAD, UNDP, DFID, IFDC British American Tobacco. Preparation and organization of Workshops and Training Events. Analysis of economic performance of Value Chains, Agribusiness Clusters and Analysis of incoming Business Ideas and agribusiness Cluster Action Plans. Preparation of annual activities, plan budget and preparation of Strategic Plans and Identification of successes, failures, and capitalize experiences. Development of Impact Indicators and Management of the projects. Record Keeping and Back-Up Support Systems. Preparation, publication and dissemination of reports, technical documents, newsletters, brochures, leaflets and working in close relationship with Base of the Pyramid Innovation Centre (BoP)Inc. Netherlands, International Centre for Development Oriented Research (ICRA) Netherlands.


The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in collaboration with CORAF/WECARD and West Africa Seed Program(WASP) is Organizing a National Workshop For Developing a Rapid Action Plan For Quality Seed Production and Presentation of the Alliance for a Seed Industry in West Africa (ASIWA) Nigeria Chapter.

The objective of the workshop include:

  1. To Address immedaite need for quality seed in the country and to develop a plan for the development of the Seed Sector in Nigeria beyond 2016
  2. To Share and Sensitize Stakeholder in the Nigeria Seed Industry on the (ASIWA) Concept for by in

Date: 7th-8th April,2016

Venue: Chelsea Hotel,Abuja,Nigeria

Time: 9;00am Prompt


As part of efforts to rid the country of fake and adulterated seeds, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has destroyed fake and adulterated seeds confiscated from some seed dealers, nationwide
While performing the burning of the impounded seeds at this years farmers’ field day held at the NASC Technical Headquarters Sheda, Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Arc Sonny T. Echono, said large quantity of seeds that were not properly packaged and with no seed label or certification tags attached or displayed in the open containers were confiscated, adding that the burning was to send warning signal to other fake seed dealers. He said fake and adulterated seed in the country could cost farmers billions of dollars in revenue if not checked.
The Director General, NASC, Dr Philip Olusegun Ojo, in his welcome address at the event said any seed package offered for sale without the blue certification tag of NASC is fake and should not be purchased. He said the Council embarked on enforcement and surveillance activities within the cropping season during which fake and adulterated seed were confiscated in various markets, He urged farmers to buy seed from reputable seed companies and seed dealers, only.