The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) on Thursday said the country produced over 100,000 metric tons of seeds in 2020 for local and West African Countries.
The Director-General, NASC, Dr Phillip Ojo stated this at the Unveiling of the Plant Variety Protection ACT 2021 and Plans for Implementation on Thursday in Lagos.
The Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act 2021 was unveiled to stakeholders and called for complete process for the full implementation of the law to increase the country’s international seed trade.
He said the seeds were produced by 300 seed companies and the number would double or triple with the new PVP law in the country.
He said that Nigeria produced 50 per cent of seeds used in West African adding that a lot of other West African countries depend on Nigeria in other to meet their seed demand.
Ojo said that for the country, therefore, not to become a dumping ground for all sought of junks through importation of “seeds”, Nigeria must complete this process which will make it a strong player in the global trade of seeds in the near future
“We need the support of everyone and therefore, will continue to collaborate with partners both locally and internationally to ensure that we complete all the remaining milestones to ensure full implementation of an efficient PVP system in Nigeria.
“One important remaining milestone to deliver is the deposition of our instrument of accession to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).
“This is the only requirement left to be met by the country in our quest to become a full member of UPOV.I wish to call on all our partners and stakeholders again to join us on this advocacy journey to get this process completed.
“This process is what every other country with a serious desire to transform its agricultural sector is currently undergoing.
“Nigeria and Ghana are closely following each other in the effort to become the next new member of UPOV to join Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Tanzania and other African Countries who are already members of UPOV,’ he said.
Ojo said that it is important to mention that the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), operates a PVP system that cover the territory of its seventeen member states namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic.
He listed others as Chad, the Comoros, the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Senegal and Togo.
“For Nigeria, therefore, not to become a dumping ground for all sought of junks through importation of “seeds”, we must complete this process which we make us a strong player in the global trade of seeds in the near future.
“As we celebrate the new PVP law, marking an end to the first phase of this journey , we are starting another phase, which is the journey towards full implementation of the law,” he said .
Ojo said that the importance of having a PVP law in place cannot be over emphasise adding that Nigeria agricultural sector transformation was a significant reason why the country should pay attention to plant variety protection (PVP).
He said that the law would incentivise national and multinational agribusiness investments in the country.
He said that the unveiling was indeed an important milestone not just for the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) and its partners but also, the Nigerian Agricultural Sector.
“As we all know, before now, Nigeria was one of the few countries in Africa that does not have a plant variety protection system.
“In other words, Nigeria did not have an intellectual property rights (IPRs) system (Either a patent, effective sui generis system or combination systems) for plant varieties.
“Today, this is no longer the case. I thank President, Muhammadu Buhari for granting assent to this very important legislation.
“I want to also thank the members and staff of the National Assembly who worked tirelessly and closely with us towards achieving this very important milestone.
“This missing law is now in place and requires few steps for us to begin to see the impactful transformation it will bring to the seeds sector in particular and generally on the nation’s agriculture space.
“We will begin to see on our farmer’s field superior yielding, stress tolerant, disease resistant, climate smart and input efficient varieties,” he said.
Ojo noted that group would be converging again in Abuja on August 12 to meet with stakeholders from the Northern part of the country for the same purpose.
In his remarks, the CEO of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr Laoye Jaiyeola commended the Nigerian Government and the National Assembly for signing the Plant Variety Protection Act, 2021 into law.
He said the act was signed into law following deliberations, advocacy visits, closed-door meetings, expert reviews, traditional and digital campaigns in the last few months with diverse stakeholders and the citizenry.
According to him, as we convene to celebrate this great achievement with the NASC and discuss plans for implementation, we must act with a sense of urgency to strengthen partnerships for resilient seeds regulations through catalytic investments into the seeds sector.
“We must tackle high level insecurity for sustainable and inclusive seeds systems and agricultural transformation in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that the implementation of PVP Act will assist to better position Nigeria to feed her growing population and equally attract foreign investments into the seed sub-sector.
“It will as well enjoy the gains of intra- and inter-border trade opportunities in seed trade and exports.
“ Indeed, hunger has been on the rise for several years in Nigeria and with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, affordability, availability and accessibility to nutritious foods is increasingly becoming difficult for 52 million food insecure Nigerians.
“It is our believe that plant breeders and farmers can offer solutions to these challenges of food insecurity.
“The NESG, hereby, reiterates our commitment to further collaboration with seed sector players in the implementation of the NASC Act, 2019 and the PVP Act, 2021,” he said.