The second edition of the SeedConnect Africa Conference and Exhibition 2019 organized by The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) was held at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, from April 15-16, 2019.
The conference had in attendance over 400 participants from within and outside Nigeria. Representing the international seed sector were Dr. Andreas Wais, Secretary General, International Seed Testing Association (ISTA); Mr. Csaba Gaspar, Manager Seed Schemes programme, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); Mr. Michael Keller, Secretary General, International Seed Federation (ISF); Ms. Yolanda Huerta, Legal Adviser & Capacity Development, UPOV; François Burgaud, Director, External Affairs, French Interprofessional Organization for Seeds and Plants (GNIS); Mr. Minh Thanh, Director Plant Variety Protection Office, Ministry of Agric & Rural Development, Vietnam, amongst others.
The event, which had the theme “Enhancing the Potential of the Nigerian Seed Industry”, is aimed at building a stronger seed sector in Nigeria and Africa.
The first edition was organized in 2018 as a starting point to raise awareness about certain issues in the seed industry. The DG, Dr. Phillip Ojo, mentioned that “after the 2018 SeedConnect, the quality of seed has improved and a lot of infrastructural development has taken place. And with the 34 million of arable land available, it makes the demand for seed production to increase, with the value estimated to be N284billion by 2050”.
The DG further said “a lot of players are coming into the seed industry due to the large potentials which have opened the door to the large and medium seed enterprises and despite the large volume of the production of seeds, 72,000 tonnes of seven major crops were produced in Nigeria against a demand of 420,000 tonnes”.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu, said the bill for Seed Act has been passed but awaits the assent of President Muhammed Buhari. Speaking through his representative, Munir Babagana, the lawmaker said the committee is working hard to ensure that the bill is signed before the end of the 8th Assembly. He said the committee will expand its participation in the ECOWAS Committee to promote seed business in West Africa.
The President of Seed Entrepreneur Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), Richard Olafare, said his association has produced over 100,000 tonnes of seed for Nigerians to ensure food security. “The association started modestly with the capacity to produce about 5000 metric tonnes about 12 years ago, but we can produce 100,000 tonnes now,” he said The Director of Training and Assistance at the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), Yolanda Huerta, said sustainable agriculture depends on plant breeding to produce varieties of plants with improved quality. She further said agriculture is faced with a lot of challenges such as a growing population, climatic change and evolving food needs. Ms Huerta said innovation in agriculture is important for economic development in the rural sector. “It will provide employment and income for hundreds of thousands,” she said.