Dr. Philip Ojo, The Director General, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), has urged both the federal and state governments to consider providing seeds as palliatives to farmers amidst the devastating impact of COVID-19 in the country. He said that the seed industry currently has about 81,000 metric tons of certified seeds of rice, soybean, maize, sorghum, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame and potato, that are ready for deployment and purchase by farmers for the production of food and raw materials for Nigerians during the current planting season.
Ojo said that giving seed palliatives would serve as a subsidy, as well as ensure that seeds become available to most farmers, who no longer have money to purchase seeds for the planting season, having exhausted their savings on food during the recent COVID-inspired lockdown by the government.
Speaking to journalists via a web conference on the preparation and readiness for the 2020 planting season, including strategies put in place to help the seed industry cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NASC boss also urged the government and individuals who intend to give seed palliatives, to ensure that the inputs are sourced from NASC accredited seed companies.
He said: “We are advocating that seeds should be used as palliatives because a lot of people have spent their money trying to buy food during this pandemic and a lot of them, particularly grassroots farmers, don’t have any more money to buy seeds.” This Day