By Edwin Nwanojuo
The National Agricultural Seeds Council, which is Nigeria’s seed regulator in the agriculture sector, in partnership with mPedigree Network Nigeria, has introduced an innovative platform for electronic quality verification of seeds and planting materials in Nigeria.
mPedigree was selected as NASC strategic innovation partner to deploy mPedigree’s Ovasight technology to advance this program and ensure digital surveillance of the national seeds supply system.
Under the introduced scheme farmers shall from June 2019 be able to verify the certification status of seed packets they purchase from agro-dealers.
Speaking while signing an agreement with mPedigree, the Director General of Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council, Dr Philip Ojo said “some three years ago, the electronic seed certification system was introduced in East Africa, Kenya in particular and just some few months back other countries like Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi all in the COMESA region have initiated processes to introduce the system.
“I am proud to inform you that this same feat is what we have gathered to
achieve and today we will be signing a letter of intent with mPedigree the
technology giant that is behind the success of this technology globally.
“This will mean that in the next few months, we will just like in the pharmaceutical industry introduce a turnkey electronic seed certification system with scratch card authentication and enhance security features that will make it impossible for the
faking of any seed certified by the NASC”
He further said “We will commence the implementation of a turnkey, electronic, agro-certification program for the Nigerian seed industry, based on mpedigree’s
globally proven and multi-award winning Goldkeys platform. The solution we are
offering will make us respond faster and more efficiently to the need of
companies that require certification tags as we will now be able to provide
millions of smart certification tags within a short period coupled with the roll out of
an e-verification system.
“The Goldkeys technology, will enable quality and genuineness verification
by farmers and the public through SMS, smartphone apps (with GS1 barcoding
support) and web. It is also equipped with its own integrated call center desk
software. For sophisticated users, blockchain verification is also available to further
strengthening the resistance against sabotage. We therefore at NASC will become the first federal agency to deploy a blockchain-powered application
for mass usage in West Africa”.
Also speaking, the Global Director Strategy of mPedigree Network Nigeria, Selorm Branttie said “for me this an important occasion especially with the fact that the NASC has decided to put their name a a technology company which is also look at the same objective in that no farmer in this country should be a victim fake seeds.
“We are very happy and very enthusiastic that this is the first time that this is being deployed in the West African region, and with the experience we have gathered in deploying this in East Africa with several countries, we believe that the wealth of experience is also going to be used as a piggyback to ensure that Nigerian Seed certification system in going to be one of the most resilient in the world.
“We are ready to take all those steps together with NASC to ensure that in the future when they are talking about sustainable agriculture productivity in this country, the role that the NASC had in beginning the foundation through the provision of quality certified seeds would be the bedrock of the story of success of agriculture in the whole of Nigeria”.
In his submission, the Head Corporate Affairs of the company, Chukwudi Madu said “we are looking to improve agriculture being that it is the basis for our growth, we are not going to take this responsibility lightly, the Seed Council has been doing a great job, we are only going to take this to a higher level and make much better gains for the Nigerian agricultural sector.
The data from these verifications shall complement current enforcement mechanisms and strengthen the new online seed batch approval process that is to accompany the verification system.
By digitizing the quality certification management process, NASC aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Nigeria’s food security and seed stock surveillance capacity, thereby boosting agribusiness and helping eliminate hunger.
The increased traceability and accountability should also greatly enrich the policy formulation process by removing information asymmetries and increasing responsiveness. Market efficiency is a major expected outcome of the scheme, since fraud and faking shall be suppressed through the business process automation and enhanced transparency.