Nigerian farmers under the aegis of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) have thrown their full weight behind the Plant Variety Protection (PVP), Biosafety Bills and the Seed Act of 2019.
In a statement the farmers’ body, said its support is intended to publicly counter recent negative comments from different quarters with respect to the acts.
According to the national president of AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, the farmers’ body is happy with the introduction of the bills “AFAN supported the passage of all these three bills at the National Assembly public hearing on separate occasions after studying the drafts and making input.”
On the Biosafety Bill, which deals with the safety of Genetically Modified (GMO) Technology and the release of GMO crops for cultivation after ascertaining their safety for both human and animal consumption, AFAN noted that the authority to regulate the technology is vested in the National Biosafety Agency which has the responsibility of permitting the use of GMO crops after due diligence.
“There is no scientifically established nexus between GMO and cancer but the antis’ are all over the place trying to scuttle the effort to embrace biotechnology which leads to the production of GM technology that helps in the production of seeds which are high yielding, drought and disease resistant thereby taking the farmer out of poverty.” The statement read.
The association also noted that the Seed Act of 2019, already signed into law, makes the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) the regulating authority of Agricultural seed in Nigeria.
According to the statement, “The seed system is vital to Agricultural growth and requires extreme care in handling and use because it has life. There is a clear distinction between seed and grain. Unless this is properly regulated the farmers will continue to plant grains instead of seeds and thereby remain poor due to low yield.”
“Hybridization on farms and laboratories is allowed and regulated in the seed Act as such the farmers can retain their seeds that they develop over time.” It added.
On the PVP Bill, Ibrahim explained that it is awaiting assent and simply constitutes the copyright over varieties developed by breeders and farmers alike.
“Without the protection provided by PVP the efforts of our researchers and breeders would be hijacked and other people will be reluctant to avail us with their material for use without control or remuneration. From the foregoing the farmers have a simple mind and fully understand these bills and believe they will help them to carry on with their businesses sustainably,” the AFAN president said.
Ibrahim further urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently assent to the PVP Bill for the benefit of the Nigerian farmers.