All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has expressed support to the Plant Variety Protection (PVP), Biosafety Bills and the Seed Act of 2019 in order to publicly counter recent negative assessment of the laws from other quarters.
In a statement released by the farmers’ body, its national president, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, said: “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 is already in place and deals with the safety of GM Technology and the release of GM crops for cultivation after ascertaining their safety for both human and animal consumption, AFAN noted that the authority to regulate this 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 association also noted that the Seed Act 2019 already signed into law makes the NASC (National Agricultural Seed Council) the regulating authority of Agricultural seed in Nigeria.
“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.”
On the PVP Bill, Ibrahim explained that the Bill 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 and invited President Muhammadu Buhari to kindly assent to the PVP Bill for the benefit of the Nigerian farmers.