The Federal Government has licenced 158 new seed firms to commence production of quality seeds and boost agricultural production in the country.
The Director-General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Philip Ojo, who made this known in Abuja, said the new approvals were given in addition to the 156 already existing licences.
He said Agriculture and Rural Development Minster, Audu Ogbeh, gave the approval in order to address the problem of inaccessibility and lack of quality seedling.
He said the approvals were made up of 16 new small-scale firms, 133 producer and seller entrepreneurs and nine seed dealers.
He said the approval became necessary in order to allow more players in the seed industry to produce and distribute quality seeds to farmers, adding that out of the 158 new seed entrepreneurs, 10 were foreign while the remaining 148 were local firms.
Ojo admitted that though a deficit in seed availability still exists, this would be bridged to a large extent with the new approvals.
He said: “The Governing Board of NASC under the chairmanship of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has ratified and approved the licensing of 158 new seed entrepreneurs of different categories to add to the existing 156 already operating.
“I want to assure you that this is borne out of the determination to allow many qualified entrepreneurs to explore the bidding liberalised landscape of the seed industry.
“I wish to allay your fears that most of these newly licenced companies are greenhorns in the business, but are mostly out-growers with long years of experience.
“They have acquired necessary facilities in relevant categories they have been classified into after due assessment by NASC.
“We all know that presently, the seed supply-demand gap is still wide and there are more calls from our neighboring countries that look up to us for their seed supply.”
According to him, Nigeria now has 314 seed entrepreneurs, 223 produce sellers and 20 seed dealers.
He said NASC was not interested in the number of seed entrepreneurs but the quality of seeds being supplied to farmers.