How non-implementation of NASC 2019, PVP 2022 Acts, draws back seed policy – Report

The African Seed Access Index (TASAI) report on Nigeria seed industry assessments has revealed that lack of implementation of the NASC Act of 2019 and the Plant Variety Protection Act of 2022, is a drawback to the seed policy framework.

The report states there is an urgent need to provide clarity and structure to the variety release process.

The TASAI Nigeria Country Report 2022 under The African Seed Access Index aims to encourage public policymakers and development agencies to create and maintain enabling environments that will accelerate the development of competitive formal seed systems serving smallholder farmers in Africa.

The report summarizes the key findings of the study conducted by TASAI in 2022 to appraise the structure and economic performance of Nigeria’s formal seed sector; this is even as it also draws comparisons to the findings of the 2018 and 2020 TASAI Nigeria studies.

According to the report, the Acts in their current form, the variety release process is costly and takes a lot of time.

“Moreover, seed companies can only release varieties through mandated research institutions. This may present a conflict of interest, as these institutions also produce varieties that compete with privately-owned varieties.

“On the positive side, the FMARD has developed a new seed policy to replace the policy of 2015. The new policy provides further clarifications on the role of the NASC, liberalizes the production of basic seed, and encourages private sector participation in various seed services. These new developments bode well for the seed industry,” the report pointed out.

The report also raised concerns over the high cost of variety release processes, saying in well-functioning seed systems, the costs of releasing a variety should not be so high as to disincentivize variety releases altogether.

It pointed out that according to seed companies the estimated cost of the variety release process in 2021 was $47,605 for maize varieties and $36,124 for soya bean varieties.

“However, public breeders reported incurring a much smaller amount, $18,063 to release maize varieties. The companies complained that the cost was too high, especially considering that public breeders are charged much less for the same service.

“Public research institutions conduct mandatory trials for both seed companies and their own breeding programs; however in the case of the latter, the trials are considered regular activities and are not accounted for separately.

“Further, as mentioned earlier, seed companies pay for the meeting costs of the Variety Release Committee to hasten the release process. Commenting on the overall high cost of variety releases in the country, NACGRAB expressed concerns that multinational seed companies may choose to release varieties in other ECOWAS countries and then import the seed into Nigeria.

“The cost of variety release in Nigeria is high because the variety development and release processes are not clearly separated. TASAI findings from other countries show that the costs of variety release in Nigeria are significantly higher than these costs in other African countries studied between 2020 and 2022. For example, in 2022, the cost of releasing a variety averaged $3,000 in Kenya and $28,710 in Ghana while in 2021, it was $7,031 in Mali,” it said.

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