Improving agricultural productivity through community seed program
In Nigeria, community seed production was triggered by necessities of time as a viable option to promote seed diffusion among the peasant rural farm-families which were naturally agrarian entrepreneurs. At the time of introduction, government has appreciated the dependence of agricultural productivity on quality of planting materials; also agriculture being the second source of foreignexchange earnings for the country thus demands solid-base attention. The only sustainable platform for promoting this sector is by making available to farmers these improved seeds and seedlings.
The available seed companies at the time were the international and multinational corporations and companies; but their operations and marketing strategies (as at that time) were too lean and in-effective to penetrate sustainably into Nigerian market. For their inability to gain seed demand after several years of investment, they bowed-out of Nigerian seed market.
Indigenous companies started to emerge sparingly to fill the obvious vacuum created by the exit of foreign companies. As part of strategies evolved to attract seed demand by farmers, community seed was most viable option; it was hoped that giving the rural farmers a taste of improved materials will trigger optimum seed adoption and confirm interdependency between community seed organizers and seed companies.
However, we should appreciate that over the years since the introduction of community seed to date, many things have changed, even the socio-economic platform of the society; paradoxically our seed companies have not moved out an inch from the traditional marketing strategies and essentially trade-ethics remains great burden; as quality assurance a mirage.How many companies are involved in the marketing of seed/ seedlings: cocoa, oil-palm, cashew and others that are real export crops?
In modern context, we should appreciate that community seed production is now triggered by mutual response of the elite in the given community and/or international concern to enhance the income base of the rural community and socioeconomic image of the farmers; as a way of contributing or impacting on lives of other people.
Also the International agencies both governmental and non-governmental, using security-information extracts with regards to implication of unemployment among youths, identified community seed as a tangible means of ameliorating the situation.
By and large, making rural community economically and politically relevant within the state and/or local government; there are other collateral benefits such as: addressing food security, increase in farm profit earning which attracts more hands and that of the youth in particular as viable alternative to criminal activities as source of earning a living. These are the present realities and objectives of CSP compounded by the general insecurity due largely to lack of enviable source of livelihood. Open-market economy: On the other hand, let us be reminded that every democratic system operates open-market economy and Nigeria is a pronounced operator of democracy at least among African States. Therefore on no account should government be misled to creating platform for formation of cartel in Nigerian Seed Industry that will inevitably attract grievous consequences. Let us take cognizance that open-market economy promotes quality of goods, quantity of stock, creativity and various innovation diffusion among others, that all dovetail to real-time advancement in various spheres of life. Concepts driving seed marketing: To the benefit of the seed industry, let me once again digress to delineate with practical application of key terms that need be driving motive for the keyplayers; these are: varietal preference, availability and accessibility of seeds (2012).
For benefit of present readers, I will summarize the application of the last two terms. Seed availability addresses the issue of quality and quantity of various crop seeds made available to meet speculative market or regional/ national requirement at a given time. Seed accessibility means how much of these available seeds are accessible to the target group- the farm-families. This access is dictated by affordability (price) and often proximity (distribution channels and strategies (advertisement and packaging). These are some of the ingredients of achieving seed security.
We can begin to appreciate that it is very possible to have large volume of seed in the system but not readily accessible to the prospective customers. That is the very issue that should challenge agile seed companies rather thandiversionary contests. Booster With respect to the community seed, the community enjoys that sense of belonging through participatory nomination of varieties of their choice and production of high quality seeds; thus that suspicion of faking and poor quality are absolutely eliminated.
It is therefore imperative that seed companies adopt the posture of using community seed production as barometer to gauge the taste and volume of market in the given community.