Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Comesa adopts measures to boost seed trade

Comesa adopts measures to boost seed trade



Thandiwe Katinhimure, Business Reporter
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has adopted seed labelling and certification as a way of boosting regional trade.

The regional body is set to become the first Regional Economic Community (REC) in the world to introduce and distribute seed labels and certificates to improve access to quality seeds in the region.

A senior Comesa representative, Mr Joseph Mpunga, revealed this during a regional meeting to discuss modalities of rolling out Comesa Seed Labels and Certificates in Lusaka last week. He said out of 80 million small-holder farmers in the Comesa region, only 20 percent have access to quality and improved seed.

Once operational, Mr Mpunga said the Comesa regional seed certification will be issued by national seed authorities upon verification.

He said a seed lot has to be registered on the Comesa variety catalogue and inspected to meet set field standards including laboratory analysis.

“The potential total seed market in Comesa is at two million metric tonnes of quality and improved seed. However, the region is currently producing and accessing less than 520 000 metric tonnes of quality and improved seed. This has continued to impact negatively on the people,” said Comesa.

“Although Comesa is home to some of the major seed producing countries in Africa such as Egypt, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda, the levels of supply remain stagnant with each country differing in the laws, procedures and systems applied to the seed value chain.”

Comesa said the major challenge was due to fragmentation of regional seed markets into small national markets whereby each country operates its own seed policies and regulations different from other Comesa member states.

“Companies are left to focus only on the domestic markets and thus unable to supply other markets in the region that may have greater demand,” it said.

As a result, Comesa said seed companies enter any of the national seed markets available leading to delays of good quality seeds to farmers. The trend is expected to impact about 130 million people in Comesa who are currently food insecure and experiencing chronic poverty and hunger due to lack of quality and improved seed, it said.

The meeting was attended by seed companies that operate in the region including Monsanto, MRI/Syngenta, Seedco, Pioneer Dupont, HZP, East African Seed and Pannar. Also present were government representatives from Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.



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