The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), has developed a Seed Information System which will be used to measure performance of the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonization Implementation Plan (COMSHIP).
The COMESA Seed Information System (COMSIS) will give an opportunity to seed companies with varieties on the COMESA Variety Catalogue to know about business opportunities and market their products in the Member States. For sustainability, all companies using the platform will be required to contribute to the running of the COMSIS software.
ACTESA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. John Mukuka revealed in an interview in Lusaka that the COMSIS was developed with support from the European Union (EU) under the Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (RECAMP). The System was validated in August, 2022 by the COMESA Regional Seed Committee.
He disclosed that the COMESA region has a total seed market potential of two million metric tonnes of quality and improved seed; however, only 500,000 metric tonnes of quality and improved seed is currently being produced.
The region has had the challenge of lack of timely availability of improved seeds and other planting materials at affordable prices both of which are critical for increased productivity for farmers.
“Improved crop varieties can be attained by farmers having state-of-the-art technologies. This can result in higher yields, disease and pest resistance, climate change adaptation, and improved nutrition,” he stressed.
Over the last few decades, formal seed systems in the COMESA region have been gradually liberalized, resulting in increased participation of private seed enterprises. On the other hand, access to quality seed at affordable prices to smallholder farmers remains a challenge.
In view of the above, information from COMSIS will be relevant for governments, seed companies, farmers and other industry practitioners and supporters. COMSIS is designed to ensure that the information needs of these stakeholders are effectively understood and incorporated.