A non-governmental organisation, Syngenta Foundation-Nigeria (SFN) in collaboration with New Market Lab (NLM) have facilitated the signing of a varietal licensing agreement between Joseph Arwuan Tarka University, formerly known as University of Agriculture, Markudi, Benue State and Value Seeds Company Limited, Kano State.
The agreement, which is non-exclusive and non-transferable, was consummated recently at Syngenta Foundation’s office in Abuja.
The licensed seed was FUAMPEA 3, one of 2022 newly approved and released varieties by the National Variety Release Committee (NVRC), which was developed by the University of Markudi with the sole purpose of enhancing food security and improving farmers’ yield. 
This historical milestone came barely a year after President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law, the Plant Variety Protection Bill 2021 to create a window for the protection of plant varieties in Nigeria. 
The law is aimed at providing recognition and proper remuneration for breeders who develop varieties and for improved agricultural productivity in Nigeria. 
The Country Programme Manager of Syngenta Foundation, Gabriel Isaiah, said the mission and mandate of the foundation were “to strengthen smallholder farming and food systems, catalyse market development and delivery of innovations while building capacity across the public and private sectors.”
Isaiah noted that Syngenta was gradually changing the narrative to ensure that any variety developed by scientists get to the hands of smallholder farmers.
On the role of SFN in facilitating the agreement under the Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa (AVISA), Isaiah explained: “We facilitate and ensure that farmers have access to quality inputs that will Improve their productivity and better the life of end users by ensuring that the improved variety meet their needs.
“The Foundation owns it as a duty to facilitate, stimulate the market, develop business plan and provide technical assistance (TA) for seed companies to pick orphan crops like cowpea and sorghum for quality productivity. Of course, this will lead to increase in adoption and accelerate the demand curve of the mentioned
He added that his organisation was also working with NLM to ensure the improved variety gets a legal tooth which would fit into the ECOWAS catalog. 
Also speaking, a Ugandan-born international legal specialist, Adron Naggayi, said the agency performs the role of increasing awareness of regulatory aspects of seed systems and builds capacity among private sectors, breeders, lawyers and other stakeholders. 
On his part, a Seed System specialist, Prof. Lucky Omoigui from the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), appreciated Syngenta for facilitating such a laudable project.
He explained that the licensing agreement was a huge accomplishment and the first of its kind since the signing of the new Plant Variety Protection Act, stating that the IITA was one of the partners leading the breeding in the seed component while also working with the University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
Speaking at the event, the Director-General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Philip Ojo, expressed joy for witnessing the licensing agreement stressing that “it is going to help to enrich the market with quality seeds and also help to promote robust research, among others.”
Commenting on the development, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Prof. R. A. Kimbi, represented by the University Bursar, Emmanuel Timothy, said: “We appreciate Prof. Lucky. We are proud of this laudable feat. We are proud of the partnership with Value Seed. We are hopeful that this accomplishment will bring desirable result.”
The representative of Value Seed Limited, Sir George Zangir, promised to deliver on the agreed terms of the licensing agreement while commending Syngenta Foundation for facilitating the programme.
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