The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) Wednesday in Abuja launched ECOBasic Seed to produce breeder and foundation seeds to bridge demand gap.
This is following the rising demand for high-quality foundation seeds from seed companies in Nigeria.
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Over 90 per cent of the Early Generation Seed (EGS) – breeder and foundation seed – sourced in Nigeria comes from research institutions.
However, these research institutions struggle to meet the rising demand for high-quality foundation seeds from seed companies due to inadequate financial and technical support.
ECOBasic Seed, located in Kaduna State, will produce high quality and purity foundation seed, for seed companies to produce certified seed for farmers in Nigerian and West Africa.
This was made possible through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN).
Speaking at the launch in Abuja, the Executive Director of the AATF, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, said ECOBasic Seed was a child of necessitate that is created to fill a vacuum that have denied the farmers access to quality and pure seeds, adding that it was a strategic priority for every West Africa nation to be self-sufficient in agricultural food production, and the journey to food security begins with high quality foundation seed with undiluted purity.
“ECOBasic seed company is driven by the mission to sustainably produce foundation seeds of the highest quality and purity for hybrid seed production for seed companies, thereby enhancing profitability, productivity, and food security in West Africa,” the Dr. Kanangire stated.
The agric expert said hybrids are higher yielding than open-pollinated varieties if grown under suitable conditions but stressed that the major challenge to the uptake of hybrids was the availability of enough quality foundation seed, which hopefully ECOBasic Seed will quickly address.
The director general of the national Agricultural Seed Council, Dr Philip Ojo said the entry of the foundation-seed-producing coy will be a turning point for the seed sector, which is lagging behind those of Kenya, South Africa and Zambia.
He said as of last year, the country has registered about 100 seed companies trading in certified seed business, adding that the major challenge was the availability of foundation seeds which ECOBasic Seed came to intervene.
On his part, the Managing Director of ECOBasic Seeds Company, Mr Brighton Karume, said closing the national maize production and demand gap requires concerted efforts by players across the value chain.
By Vincent A. Yusuf & Grace Adetutu