The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has selected 20 candidates to be trained as third-party agents that will carry out private seed certification for cassava in Kogi state.
The Director-General of the council, Dr Philip Ojo, made this known in Lokoja, Kogi State, during the three-day “Training Workshop for Proposed Licensed Seed Inspectors (LSI) under Basic Third Party Certification.”
He said the 20 candidates were selected after painstaking screening of aspirants, just as 18 agents had earlier been trained in Benue state.
He declared that NASC will sanction producers of agricultural seedlings who compromise on quality.
He noted that the implementing partners of the Phase 1 Project, which includes the National Agricultural Seed Council, the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Context Global Development (CGD), Fera Science Ltd. and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), aim at developing virus-free seeds and seed-tracking devices for efficiency and digitisation of the cassava seed certification.
He said based on the success of the first phase, donor agencies were satisfied with the feedback, prompting approval for the second phase, which was launched in June this year.
He added that the second phase will emphasis on the escalating engagement of third party agents to additional three states, namely: Kogi, Abia and Oyo states, stressing that the workshop is very key for the stakeholders.
According to him, the Agricultural Seeds Act 2019 empowers the council to outsource seed certification to further entrench efficiency in the seed certification process in the country.
He added that Nigeria must join the global trend, by engaging private entities to complement the national seeds regulator like their counterparts of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana.
He noted the importance of cassava in the effort to realise the nation’s efforts to diversify the economy from petroleum to agriculture, stressing that collaboration with trained third-party agents would bolster the programme as envisaged by the council.