Seed sector alert Nigeria

Nigeria seed sector assessment

Seed Alerts identify current challenges and urgent action in the Nigerian seed sector, based on surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders.

Below, please find the most recent seed alert for Nigeria with key actions defined. You can also download the complete assessment.


Rapid assessments are conducted at the country level in May and June 2020 through survey and focus group discussions (FGDs). In its approach the rapid assessments are inspired by the sector model developed by AidEnvironment. Read more about the methodology on our page 'Rapid assessments: methodology'.

Seed sector assessment - June 2020

Alert 1: Mobility restrictions and lockdown disrupt the processess involved in the evaluation and release of new varieties

The impact

  • Due to the current government measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, researchers cannot visit and evaluate the variety performance trials
  • At the same time, the National Variety Release Committee (NVRC) is unable to hold its biannual meeting in June, with the result that new varieties cannot be approved or released in the short term
  • Research institutes cannot start the production of early generation seed (EGS) of these varieties yet; consequently, seed companies and seed producers cannot include in their portfolios, or promote, promising new varieties
  • As a result, farmers are not able to access more productive varieties with desirable traits such as resistance to pests and diseases, and early maturity, and it takes even longer for farmers to benefit from public investments in crop development

Action required

  • Ensure that researchers and farmers who are managing and hosting trials for variety release follow all measures put in place by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Develop a structure to delegate and decentralize the evaluation of on-station and on-farm variety trials, which includes working with lead farmers, providing them with support through telephone calls
  • Ensure that at least one or two members of the NVRC, who are based in closest proximity to the trials across the country, visit the trials and provide photographic evidence to support the process of variety release
  • Create a digital archive of all the documents required for varietal release
  • Slightly postpone, not cancel, the NVRC meeting originally planned for June, and hold it on a virtual platform
  • Under the current conditions, allow for EGS production of promising new varieties, to prevent further delays in the process of providing farmers with access to new improved varieties

Alert 2: Mobility restrictions and lockdown hinder the timely production of early generation seed, and the planning of its supply

The impact

  • The COVID-19 measures make it difficult to adequately plan for EGS production and supply
  • Currently there is a lack of clarity regarding the localities and quantities of EGS production, including potential sources of EGS within CGIAR Research Centers
  • Inadequate planning and lack of information will most probably result in a mismatch between EGS supply and demand
  • This demand and supply gap will negatively affect quality seed production in the next cropping season

Actions required

  • Set up a structure/network for information management and planning of EGS production and supply, ensuring that EGS requests are met and carryover is minimized
  • Promote the use of virtual meetings for the coordination of EGS production and supply
  • Encourage and scale up the use of the National Seed Tracker as an inventory structure to link EGS producers with quality seed producers and seed companies
  • Facilitate access to mobility passes for EGS-producing organizations to allow their staff to travel to EGS fields
  • Plan for increased production of EGS in the dry season using irrigation to compensate for losses, and have sufficient quantities of quality EGS for next year’s main season

Alert 3: Mismatch between financial products and services, and seed business models and needs, limits access to finance

The impact

  • Limited access to finance for producers of seed of cowpea, cassava and several other crops, further increases the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 crisis
  • Even if financial products and services are available for the agricultural sector, a poor understanding of the seed business model makes commercial banks hesitant to provide loans to seed producers and seed companies
  • Moreover, the process of accessing funds from commercial banks is lengthy and cumbersome, and is not aligned with the seasonal crop calendar and immediate needs of seed producers and companies driving seed business
  • Hence, processes and requirements for access to finance do not match the needs of seed companies and seed producers
  • As a result, seed producers and seed companies face problems in paying for the necessary inputs and services, including buying back the seed from their outgrowers, putting their business at stake

Actions required

  • Map the disconnect between the financial services and products currently available, and the needs of the seed industry
  • Raise awareness of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and the State Ministries, on this disconnect
  • Develop guidelines and tools for providing financial support to seed companies and seed producers
  • Encourage the CBN, financial institutions and development partners to provide financial support tailored to the business model of seed companies and seed producers

Alert 4: Mobility restrictions and their enforcement impede seed producers’ access to agro-inputs and mechanization services

The impact

  • Mobility restrictions constrain the supply of fertilizer and crop protection products to agro-dealers and markets
  • Similarly, they limit access to those products for seed producers and companies
  • Moreover, the restrictions hinder mechanization service providers from delivering their services to seed producers and companies
  • The enforcement of mobility restrictions by police and security forces constrains the transport and supply of seed as officers are unaware of the exemptions for agricultural products
  • This severely constrains the production of quality seed in the current growing season

Required actions

  • Raise awareness of police and security forces on the necessity of uninterrupted transport of agro-inputs and mechanization services, as essential agricultural goods
  • Prioritize mechanization and issuing of transport permits for essential services like tractor hire, etc.
  • Establish a hotline for solving immediate problems on agricultural and seedrelated issues, like obstacles in the transport of essential agro-inputs and services

Seed sector assessment - May 2020

Alert 1: Mobility restrictions hamper the access to markets by farmers, seed companies and agro-dealers

The impact

  • COVID-19 measures reduce mobility of farmers; they cannot travel to points of sale, agro-dealers, formal and informal markets, where they purchase quality seed and other agricultural inputs
  • Agro-dealers, traders and other seed entrepreneurs have difficulties to reach or even operate within markets or locations where they do their business, this challenges their ability to sell quality seed and agro-inputs
  • The months of May and June are critical for the planting of crops are crucial for the agricultural economy and food security (e.g. cereals, legumes, root and tuber crops)

Actions required

  • Structure the trade of seed and agro-inputs in designated markets and on specific days
  • Comply in organizing these markets with social distancing directions of government and relevant agencies
  • Allow only entrance to these markets to authorized persons, e.g. certified agro-dealers, seed companies, seed inspectors and farmers
  • Use a decentralized model for organizing the markets that allows quality seed and agro-inputs to be transported close to farmers, and thus reduce the distance that farmers need to travel to access inputs
  • Review regularly the interstate movement of essential agricultural goods and services (by agencies at federal and state level) and provide guidance on measures to be taken to responsible authorities
  • Ensure that the services and business of seed companies and agro-input dealers are designated as essential
  • Communicate their role as essential to food security and the national economy widely through all traditional and social media platforms
  • Target with specific and tailored communication security and other law enforcement agencies to enable the effective inter- and intrastate movement of seed and other agro-inputs

Alert 2: Measures result in increased seed prices and reduce affordability for farmers

The impact

  • The COVID-19 crisis impacts farmers’ cash earnings from farming and their other income generating activities
  • The crisis and associated measures hinder farmers’ access to financial services for investing in the purchase of agro-inputs such as seed
  • Measures have implications on the costs of production, processing, transporting and marketing seed, e.g. the costs for transport has tripled
  • Considering uncertainty, farmers either advance purchase, delay or show a reduced willingness to pay for quality seed of improved varieties
  • This has major implications on the business model of seed companies, producers, and other seed entrepreneurs

Actions required

  • Encourage governments to provide seed subsidies to farmers as a palliative measure
  • Ensure subsidies only to be applicable for seed purchased from NASC approved seed companies and producers
  • Share in a structured manner and at state level information on the availability of seed with companies and producers
  • Engage in an organized manner in the marketing and distribution of the subsidized seed directly to farmers
  • Within the marketing and distribution schemes, promote the use of Seedcodex, ensure seed quality and package identity to allow companies to remain accountable for quality, and reduce opportunities for substandard or fake seed

Alert 3: Mobility restrictions hamper seed quality assurance services 

The impact

  • The COVID-19 measures negatively impact the functioning of field inspection and laboratory testing required for seed certification
  • NASC inspection officers are hampered inspecting seed production fields
  • The transactions and linkages required for sending samples for laboratory testing are constrained
  • The linkages and transactions required in picking of certification tags and its administration on seed packages are constrained
  • Hampered quality assurance services create a risk to the business model of seed companies and producers in the production of certified seed of improved varieties
  • A subsequent result is that because of scarcity, seed prizes will increase, and some entrepreneurs will put on the market carry-over or substandard seed

Actions required

  • Raise awareness and engage with responsible authorities to consider seed an essential commodity, which allows for specific exemptions on COVID-19 measures to be developed for the seed industry and associated services
  • Encourage NASC regional offices to approach their respective state Commissioners of Agriculture and COVID-19 Taskforce including relevant Senior Police Authorities to countersign and stamp letters issued for seed movement, building on the effective measure taken in Oyo state
  • Provide certification officers and seed companies with movement tags or permits
  • Engage in a communication strategy to inform security forces on the seed industry designation as an essential service
  • Decentralize responsibilities from NASC headquarters to regional offices in seed quality assurance
  • Encourage and support third-party certification for field inspection where intra- and interstate restrictions prevent seed certification officer’s access to seed field

Alert 4: Mobility restrictions hamper the production and supply of early generation seed

The impact

  • Early generation seed (EGS) production and supply by National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) to seed producers and companies are negatively impacted by COVID-19 mobility measures
  • Hampered EGS supply creates a risk to the business model of seed companies and producers in the production of certified seed of new, improved varieties
  • Seed producers and companies will be hampered in the next season’s production of the right quantity of certified seed of their portfolio of hybrid and open-pollinated maize varieties, as well as for the production of certified seed of improved varieties for crops such as rice and legumes
  • This will impact negatively the quantity of seed and diversity of varieties that seed companies make available to farmers in the market
  • With a foreseen subsequent scarcity, seed prizes will increase, and some entrepreneurs will put on the market carry-over or substandard seed

Actions required

  • Raise awareness and engage with responsible authorities to include production and supply of EGS as a part of the larger seed industry and thereby an essential sector, qualifying for the specific exemptions on COVID-19 measures for the seed industry and associated services
  • Encourage NASC regional offices to approach their respective state Commissioners of Agriculture and COVID-19 Taskforce including relevant Senior Police Authorities to countersign and stamp letters issued for EGS movement and continued EGS production at NARIs
  • Engage in a communication strategy to inform security forces on the seed industry designation as an essential service