Seed producers groan under government indebtedness

Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) has expressed concern over the increasing indebtedness of the government to their members, insisting that the seed sector is a business and not a development sector.

The president of the association, Philip Olafare, who disclosed this during the Seed Connect Africa 2019 conference yesterday in Abuja, decried the dominance of the government in the seed industry.

He said: “When the government buys your seeds and asks you to dump them at the warehouse, to get the money back is so difficult and as a true businessman, it’s not so sustainable. What is important is to see seed as a business and work within the ethics of business circle.”

Expressing worry over lack of access to finance, Olafare pointed out that initially, banks in Nigeria were lending money to the sector during the Growth Enhancement Support Programme, but were not willing to lend them money again.

He highlighted some other challenges bedeviling the seed producers to include seed adulteration, noting that no system in the world is perfect and Nigerian seed industry is still at the nascent stage.

Others include recycling of seeds by some unscrupulous elements, round tripping, site selling, politics on rice, poor funding and access to finance, fragmented markets which is over dominated by the government, with governors buying seeds.

The Director-General of the National Seeds Council, Dr Philip Ojo, pointed out that the focus of the Seed Connect conference was to build upon what was done at the previous conference, looking at the gaps in the industries, the potential and opportunities for seed companies to make profit.