NASC Trains, Commissions Seed Inspectors In Kogi

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The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has trained and commissioned 15 licenced seeds Inspectors for cassava in Kogi State.

Dr Philip Olusegun Ojo, Director General of NASC while addressing the Inspectors in Lokoja, during the refresher training supported by Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, said the inspectors are the captains of cassava seed quality assurance.

Ojo underscored the need for them to continue to discharge their responsibilities diligently while warning them against compromising seed quality. 

Ojo represented by the Director, Seeds Certification and Quality Control, Dr Ishiak Othman Khalid, said once the Council’s world-class Grow-Out-Test Site located in the headquarters of the Council is completed, samples of cassava stems certified by licensed Seed Inspectors (LSIs) would be subjected to control testing and results would be compared with LSIs field inspection reports to assess their field inspection activities.

He said the three-day refresher training was a re-assurance of BASIC’s commitment to constant capacity building for LSIs and deep interest in the third-party seed certification appraisal system to ensure the system is at par with international best practices.

“Let me commend the financier of the BASICS project, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its vision to develop a sustainable and commercial model for cassava seed systems in Nigeria which will enable our smallholder farmers to have unhindered access to high-quality planting materials to enhance farm-level productivity

“I also want to commend you for participating in this scheme even though the system is still in its early years and with teething challenges, your contribution since inception is noteworthy as it has added great value to the quality component of the BASICS II project. 

“You have proven to be a true partner in progress. I also want to commend your mentor, Mr Soji Odusanya for sparing time to take you all through three months rigorous internship process. 

“We have been working closely with your supervising institution, the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) and feedbacks from them indicated some knowledge gaps and hence need for refresher training. 

“So today, we will be retraining you on cassava varietal identification, cassava seed certification systems, new methods in seed certification, usage of cassava seed tracker, data collection and reporting etc. to further deepen your knowledge on cassava seed system.

“I want you to engage the resource persons and ask questions where necessary.

“I have been informed that the number of applications for Commercial Seed Entrepreneurs in Kogi State is on the rise and this means you might be having added responsibilities.

“Please, be free in sharing your field experiences and challenges with us to help us in identifying possible ways to perfect the system. 

“Let me also inform you that we have inaugurated additional LSIs in Abia and Oyo states to strengthen cassava seed quality assurances in these high cassava producing states and the NASC is poised to expand this scheme beyond cassava into other grain crops.

This shows the high level of commitment of the government in the development of the scheme,” he said.

He further informed the inspectors that the guideline for authorising private certification agents in Nigeria has been forwarded to other stakeholders within the seed industry and that once the document is finally ratified by the Governing Board of NASC, it will be made available to stakeholders.

He added that it would serve as their guide, as it relates to third-party seed system which also includes the private laboratories.

“After this refresher training, there are still a lot to be learnt on cassava seed certification systems and I want to appeal to you all to continue to leverage on the knowledge of your mentor for knowledge update and more guidance. 

“I want to once again appreciate the strong support from our collaborating partner, Catholic Relief Service, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), most especially the quality assurance component team lead, Dr Lava Kumar for his intellectual leadership skills to ensure that quality assurance is delivered at the utmost level under the project.

“Furthermore, I wish to reiterate the NASC resolve and commitment to strengthening the private seed certification system in Nigeria,” he assured.

Credit: Independent

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