AS the nation yearns to boost food security, availability and affordability, the National Agricultural Seeds Council, NASC, in collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, and Content Global Development, Tuesday, launched Institutionalizing Monitoring of Crop Variety Adoption Using Genotyping programme, IMAGE, to provide farmers quality and original seeds for cultivation.
Dr Philip Ojo, Director-General NASC, in his keynote address during the launch, said the project was designed to improve variety of seedlings and enhance food productivity in Nigeria.
According to Ojo, the projects marks the beginning of a new era in adoption of improved variety monitoring and reporting.
“It is the beginning of the process that will drive us through the much-needed shift from our traditional and largely inaccurate methodology for measuring farmers’ adoption of improved variety and how varieties turn over through time,” he added.
Ojo said that overtime, studies of improved seed adoption in Nigeria were almost based on household surveys and were premised on the assumption that a farmer could accurately self-report use of improved seed varieties.
He, however, explained that many studies had further shown that farmers’ report of seed varieties planted, or whether the seed was improved or local, were sometimes inconsistent with Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) fingerprinting results of the varieties.
According to him, it is expected that the IMAGE project will provide insights and evidence for seed sector actors to enhance government agency capacity and improve stakeholders’ coordination.
He added that the initiative would lead to better investment and resource allocation decisions for varietal development and commercialisation in Nigeria.
Prof. Garba Sharabutu, Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, said the initiative was geared toward improving productivity and sustainability in the country’s agricultural sector.
Sharabutu applauded the seed council for previous successful initiatives that had made the country to improve in agriculture.
On his part, Mr Charles Onwuka, Senior Agric Officer, office of the Director-General, NASC, explained that the initiative was aimed at establishing, institutionalising, and scaling routine monitoring of improved variety adoption of seeds using the genotyping system.
“IMAGE provides the opportunity to leverage past system of monitoring pilots and for cross country learning’s, while advancing genetic reference libraries, establishing protocol adoption among others toward institutionalisation over five years,” Onwuka explained.
According to him, the varietal selection of seed is fundamental for productivity and resilient farming.
Vanguard News Nigeria