Stakeholders demand positive attitude from seed coys

Agriculture stakeholders have demanded a positive attitude from seed companies to boost the sector and ensure the success of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.

The stakeholders, at a meeting in Abuja, said they had observed that some seed companies exhibited a carefree attitude, which posed a major challenge to the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme.

Olusegun Olatokun, the Coordinating Director, National Agricultural Seeds Council, advised the seeds companies to pay adequate attention to the redemption of their seeds.

Olatokun noted that the companies were only interested in receiving payment from the Federal Government without fi nding out whether or not the seeds they supplied were redeemed by the farmers.

He warned that the Federal Government would not pay any company whose seeds were not given out to farmers because that was the aim of the scheme.

“Any seeds company whose seeds are only dumped with the agro-dealers and not redeemed by the farmers is not entitled to payment. Supplying seeds is one thing, ensuring that your seeds are redeemed is another thing; you have to follow up whatever seeds you supply and ensure they are given out to farmers.

“Seeds are wasting away in some redemption centres and the seeds companies are not even aware their seeds were not redeemed. There is a need for seeds companies to create rapport with the agro-dealers they supply to, so that they will know whether their seeds are redeemed or not.

“This is one of the factors responsible for inadequate seeds; if we know that there are some seeds somewhere, we will just go and get those seeds and deploy to states that need seeds.’’

Dr Olumuyiwa Osiname, the Rice Value Chain Team Leader, stressed the need for the seeds companies to take their business seriously.

“Very soon, the seeds are no longer going to be free and once the seeds are no longer free, how are the seeds companies going to market their products with this attitude? The problem here is that the seeds companies do not care what happens to their seeds after they have supplied. They expect the fertiliser to drive their seeds; thereby expecting the agro-dealers to take up all the responsibilities, which is not supposed to be,’’ he said.

Responding, Richard Olafare, the President, Seeds Association of Nigeria, said that the scheme had denied the seed companies certain liberties.

Olafare observed that they were not allowed to choose their own agro-dealers as they have been mandated to use specifi c agro-dealers.

“We have been using the agro-dealers that the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC)has worked with in the past and this has not been yielding positive results. Under normal circumstances, seeds should be driving fertiliser and not the other way round as we have it.

“When we supply seeds, we sign all the necessary documents and it is not our duty to monitor the redemption of seeds; there are people assigned to do that,” he said.

Also speaking, Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, the Country Representative, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, urged the government to cut down the 100 per cent subsidy on seeds, saying that it constituted a major challenge to the scheme.

He said that the seeds companies should also be allowed to work with agro-dealers of their choice and select the redemption location to enhance their market.

Ajeigbe noted that this approach would also be a sustainability plan for seeds companies after the expiration of the GES scheme.

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