Im­prov­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity through com­mu­nity seed pro­gram

Daily Trust - - AGRICULTURE - By Ako­tunola Ben Ako­tunola Ben is a Seed Re­searcher based in Abuja

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.

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