Without seed, there cannot be life. This was the position of the 61st Inaugural Lecturer of the University, Prof. Dupe Akintobi of the Department of Plant Breeding and Seed Technology, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT). The Inaugural Lecturer, who is a Professor of Seed Science and Technology, stated that for profitable agricultural business and farming enterprise to take firm root in Nigeria, as a way of making agriculture the mainstay of the economy, much effort should be concentrated at acquiring high quality seeds that are genetically-pure and free from seed-borne diseases while also ensuring best environment. The title of the lecture was “Seed: Source of Life, Prosperity and Pain”.
According to Prof. Akintobi, any agribusiness entrepreneur who does not adequately factor seed as a critical input into the crop production cycle in determining the upper limit of the entire production output, is not in for a serious business. She enumerated the major production constraints to include inadequate supply of certified seeds, poor government policy, varietal erosion, exploitation by seed dealers, illiteracy, poor seed storage infrastructure and the avalanche of fake seeds in the market. “There is even a new scenario now where people sell fake seeds, but thank God for the National Seed Council of Nigeria (NASC), which has nipped this in the bud by getting the government to sign the seed bill into law in Nigeria”, she stated.
Enumarating her contributions to knowledge, Prof Akintobi stated “In 2010/2011, during my sabbatical leave at NASC, one of my novel research breakthroughs in that year was the development of locally-made germination material from unused newspaper sheet that have water-absorbing capacity and a tensile strength of 50% of the imported paper towels, which when sterilised and used in sheets of six, instead of the three for the imported ones, produced seed-germination results comparable, if not better, than the imported ones. This was compared with the various substrate materials, using different seeds to test for seed germination. Thus, a sterilised, unused newspaper sheet, which is cheaper, readily and locally-available has replaced imported paper towels, as a substratum for seed germination. I am glad to announce that by this breakthrough, NASC now uses it all over Nigeria and some West African countries as well as by PBST staff and students”, she added.
Prof. Akintobi, who disclosed that she was the first to give inaugural lecture in Seed Science and Technology in COLPLANT, lamented the high cost of innovative technological inputs for crop production, which she said were not affordable to most farmers. For seed to be a source of life and prosperity in Nigeria rather than source of pain, her recommendations in this regard included an urgent need to bridge the gap between seed adoption and replacement, to strengthen the seed sector by ensuring the supply of improved seeds ahead of demand in terms of quality and quantity; the need for research funding, especially seed equipment, which is lacking in all agricultural institutions in Nigeria; and the imperative for leaders in all tiers of government to endeavour to fund agricultural research in collaboration with other stakeholders, among others.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Felix Salako, who chaired the event, described the Inaugural Lecturer as an outstanding scholar and renowned researcher that is committed to the girl-child developments, and advocacy for the rights of the Nigerian child. He admonished students of the University to be free to discuss their challenges with their lecturers, who are like their parents, charging them to avoid using the social media to tarnish the image of the University. The Vice-Chancellor restated that a clinical psychologist had been appointed to take care of depression, and guard against suicide among students of FUNAAB.