Premier Seed Nigeria Ltd (Premier Seed) was founded in 1984, initially as Agricultural Seed Ltd (AgSeed) owned by the Multinational Leventis Group of Companies. AgSeed was later acquired by Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed International and renamed Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Nigeria Ltd. In 1994, it became a limited liability company and officially became Premier Seed Nigeria Ltd. It is now one of the largest seed businesses in Nigeria with zonal offices across 24 states in the country and is a subsidiary of the conglomerate Obasanjo Holdings Ltd.
Plant breeding activities in index countries and breeding programme for specific traits The company has its own breeding programme in Nigeria and develops hybrid and open pollinated varieties (OPVs) of field crops and vegetables suitable for smallholder farmers in the region. The company’s breeding programme includes developing traits that are particularly important for smallholder farmers, such as catering to local tastes and cultural preferences as well as early maturing varieties. The company also focuses on incorporating resistance/tolerance to regionally important pests and diseases, such as fall army worm (FAW). The company collaborates with organisations including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the West and Central Africa Maize Network (WECAMAN) through joint projects such as developing drought tolerant maize and increasing cowpea production.
Quality management in seed production in index countries The company’s Seed Technology Quality Control laboratory conducts regular germination, viability, vigour and conductivity tests on all seed lots to ensure that quality standards are met. The company further has an internal quality control team that visits its production fields to verify the quality of work being done by production staff in the fields.
Diverse portfolio Premier Seed offers four or more varieties for the majority of crops in its portfolio. The company offers OPVs for all crops in its portfolio, as well as hybrids for some crops.
Demonstration and promotion strategies The company has demonstration programmes, including demonstration plots and field days, to promote the adoption of new varieties among smallholder farmers. Premier Seed targets women smallholder farmers through field days that are specifically aimed at them.
Extension services Through partnerships, the company provides direct extension services, agronomic advice and crop protection services to farmers on farm management, efficient production and ensuring good yields in Nigeria. Premier Seed has reached 700,000 farmers in the country.
Access to seeds for smallholder farmers The company has objectives for ensuring access to seeds for smallholder farmers in index countries through marketing and sales and capacity building. Premier Seed can expand its strategy to include other aspects of ensuring access to seeds, such as research and development.
Conservation of genetic resources The company’s collaborative partners include the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) and IITA in Nigeria.
The company provides limited insight into its position and activities related to genetic resources and intellectual property management. As it is important that seed companies contribute to genetic resources and intellectual property management that supports smallholder agriculture, the company could provide more insights into its activities for others to learn from.
Variety testing and local participation in breeding/variety development The company only performs variety trials in Nigeria, one of five index countries where it is active in the region. These trials include annual on-farm performance trials, with participation from farmers, which are conducted across the 36 states in the country. There are also regional trials that are organised and coordinated by IITA. The company could disclose more information on whether it has a system in place to inform its breeding programme with feedback from local farmers, including female farmers, and consumers and other stakeholders.
Social and labour rights in seed production The company discloses that it does not encourage or engage in child labour at any time and has a policy in place to discourage forced labour or any form of activities that can be considered as slavery. However, it has the opportunity to disclose a coordinated and consistent monitoring system for these issues both when seed production is carried out by the company itself or through an intermediate. Furthermore, the company does not disclose whether it pays its workers a living wage or requires its intermediates to do so.
Quality assurance and after-sales The company has an internal quality assurance system to ensure germination and vigour. It also takes measures to prevent the distribution of counterfeit seeds through the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) SeedCodex system, which provides a scratch code that farmers can use to verify the authenticity of the seed packages. Premier Seed provides after-sales support to smallholder farmers through phone lines and social media platforms. However, the company can disclose more about how it monitors its distribution network and how it prevents of the sale of expired seeds.
Other agricultural inputs The company makes other agricultural inputs available to smallholder farmers, including agro-chemicals and fertilisers. However, it can increase its disclosure regarding its promotion of the sustainable use of those inputs through its marketing and packaging strategies.
Information and communications technology (ICT) The company discloses it has programmes that aim to advance the use of ICT among smallholder farmers in index countries, which include information on product prices, farming practices, harvesting time and weather data. However, it has the opportunity to provide examples of these programmes.