As long as farmers continue to plant grains as seeds, Nigeria’s goal of being self-sufficient in food production would remain a mirage, an expert said.
The comment was made over the weekend in Kaduna while Mr Brighton Karume, the managing director of ECOBasic Seeds Company Limited was speaking with a group of farmers.
“The federal government has a robust agricultural policy framework and conducive environment to ensure the country becomes self-sufficient in food production. But government’s efforts and goodwill 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.
He asserted that the majority of farmers think it is a waste of money to buy seeds from reputable seed businesses. Regrettably, the crops they plant each year and store for the following planting season are grains, which purity is debatable and 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.
ECOBasic, according to Karume, was founded to fill a critical gap in the country’s seed subsector, and in just two years of operation, the company has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the production of essential foundation seeds required 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 the 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.