Kigali, Wednesday, November 6, 2019: Eighteen COMESA Member countries have successfully launched the regional Seed Harmonisation Implementation Plan (COMSHIP) while five of these are implementing the programme with support from USAID. The remaining Member States namely Somalia, Tunisia and Libya are yet to launch.
This was revealed during the opening of the 3rd COMESA Seed Committee Meeting at Radisson Blu Park Inn Kigali on 6 November 2019.
COMESA through its specialized agency the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) came up with COMSHIP to expedite implementation of the harmonized regional seed regulations ensuring compliance, coherence, transparency and synergies.
The overall goal of COMSHIP is to implement the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations in order to enhance seed production, reliability, seed trade including increasing the competitiveness of the seed industry in the Southern and East African Region.
In his presentation on the status of COMSHIP, ACTESA/COMESA Seed Development Expert Dr John Mukuka revealed that various issues have affected the implementation and domestication of the programme in the region. These include the slow rate in the utilization of the COMESA Seed Labels and Regional Certificates by seed companies and National Seed Authorities, lack of harmonized COMESA Harmonised Seed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), mistrust and inefficiencies arising from lack of adequate and accurate information by key seed sector players.
However, a lot has been done in the area of awareness creation and so far over 13, 500 COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations have been printed, 270 delegates mostly female from 13 COMESA countries have been trained in the regional Seed programme and 3, 000 brochures distributed. Agriculture experts have lauded COMSHIP pointing out that once fully domesticated, the programme will enable farmers access quality and improved seed which will lead to food security and poverty reduction.
‘This region has the potential to record USD$5 billion in seed trade in the next five years compared to the current trade levels of USD$1.4 billion,” Dr Mukuka added.
Meanwhile, the government of Rwanda has commended COMESA on its 25 years of advocating for regional integration. Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources Permanent Secretary Mr Jean Claude Musabyimana said the region needs to improve seed trade as the bloc marks its silver jubilee this December. The PS was represented by Dr Charles Bucagu Deputy Director General at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).
Rwanda is among the countries that have aligned their national seed laws and regulations with the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonization Regulations.
Others are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.