NIGERIA – The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has commenced training of Licensed Seed Inspectors (LSI) to enforce the use of quality cassava seed in a bid to boost food security in the country.

Dr. Ishiak Khalid, Director of NASC, stated this in Ibadan recently at the commencement of the two-day training by the council in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The workshop was tagged “Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed (BASICS-ll) for Cassava Licensed Seed Inspectors.

Khalid who was represented by the South West Regional, NASC, Dr Adekunle Adeseko, said the council has set the pace in cassava seed certification in West Africa.

He stated that it has been improving its efficiency through the adoption of Seed Tracker in digital certification especially in cassava.

Khalid, however, charged the LSIs to be up and doing by ensuring compliance to seed quality, noting that the council has been abreast of the activities of informal seed entrepreneurs.

While speaking on the challenges in Cassava Certification in South West and the way forward, Khalid said there was low patronage on Seed Tracker by new Seed Entrepreneurs

“We know in the South NASC is in the process of integrating the newly licensed cassava growers and processors as they are yet to fully grasp the need to register their cassava seed field on the Seed Tracker for quality assurance.

Another challenge is the sourcing of cassava seed from the Informal Seed Sector.

“Cassava propagating material moves from one place to another either as farmers exchange or unchecked due to weak seed law enforcement compounded by logistics at the community and without recourse to its health status,” he said.

The DG noted that awareness creation was a way out of the challenges.

According to him, the council is challenged by the paucity of funds to upscale the level of awareness on the need to propagate cassava using seeds instead of stem from old plants meant for root production.

He commended collaborations such as the one with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which have been supporting the realization of the objective of the council.

The desk officer, BASICS-ll, NASC, Dr. Bankole Osho-Lagunju, said decentralizing seed quality assurance was a new paradigm that NASC was looking at because of the shortage of manpower for the number of seed producers in the nation.

Having trained personnel like this will complement the NASC officers, bring quality assurance closer to the people, and make it more responsive as well as creating income for those engaged,” he said.

In his goodwill message, Dr. Shuaeeb Oyewole, Zonal Coordinator, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ibadan Zonal Office, said it was important to plant high-yielding seeds that would give optimal harvest.