The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has assured the National Advisory Commission (NAC) of Seed Policy Enhancement in African Region (SPEAR) project of full support and cooperation in the implementation of its policies.
The Executive Director of NASC, Chief Olasunkanmi Shobowale, gave the assurance at the inauguration of six-member commission in Abuja, recently.
SPEAR is a pilot project being implemented in Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia to encourage African agricultural crop productivity and more competitiveness in the global commodity market.
It is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aimed at increasing productivity on small farms in the three countries, by implementing policy changes to augment the number of release of varieties of crops.
Shobowale gave the assurance that the council would provide all the necessary assistance for the commission to succeed, noting that Nigeria was chosen to pilot the experimental scheme in the West African sub-region.
“The mandate of the commission should be properly examined so that the experimental trial will be a success and it will indicate that we are capable of achieving the desired goal”.
“Because if we succeed, it means the project can succeed anywhere in the sub-region as Nigeria is strategically located and is a very good experimental site in the West African region,” he said.
Shobowale said that the NAC was expected to develop, analyse and propose changes to the current regulatory framework for the national adoption of the variety release system.
“It is to also inform the SPEAR National Advisory Council (NAC) on the progress of the project through minutes of meetings and reports of the commission,” he added.
He pleaded with the commission members to demonstrate zeal and dedication towards the realisation of the desired objectives of the project.
“I urge you all to painstakingly go through the various technical papers and come up with a well articulated work plan and issues that can move this project for mass adoption in all ECOWAS member states,” he urged.
The key goal of this project is to unlock the African agricultural crop productivity and make it not only profitable but also competitive in the global commodity market. .
One of its objectives is to increase the number of improved varieties officially released, shorten the period of release and make improved cultivars available to smallholder farmers.
It is also to facilitate the enhancement of genetic access and transfer from crop research institutes to companies and between private genetic providers and private seed companies.