Lusaka, July 26, 2019: Following the launch of the COMESA Regional Seed Certifications and Labels early this year, COMESA will conduct training on the electronic issuance and ordering of these documents in the next six months. National Seed Authorities (NSA) will offer the certificates at the national level while seed companies will obtain them from COMESA.
These were part of the outcomes of a two-day sensitization meeting on the use of the certifications and labels. The meeting which took place last week, July 23 – 25 in Lusaka, Zambia was attended by seed companies and NSAs from seven Member States: Burundi, Egypt, Eswatini, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The launch of the COMESA Seed Labels and Certificates is intended to boost regional seed trade in a region where only 20% of over 80 million small-holder farmers have access to quality and improved seed.
According to the Director of Agriculture and Industry in COMESA Mr. Thierry Kalonji, lack of access to quality seeds is partly to blame for food insecurity and poor incomes for small-holder farmer house-holds across the COMESA region.
In a statement presented by COMESA Senior Private Sector Development officer, Mr Innocent Makwiramiti, Mr. Kalonji said:
“The region has potential of total seed market at two million metric tonnes of quality and improved seed. However, its currently producing less than 500,000 metric tonnes of quality and improved seed. This has affected about 130 million people out of total 530 million COMESA population remaining food insecure, experience chronic poverty and hunger.”
He said the main challenge in the regional as the small national markets, with each country having its own policies and regulations which is not only costly to the private sector but contributes to the delays before good quality seed reaches the small-scale farmer.
“Integrating these individual markets into one COMESA-wide market is a fundamental requirement for improved small-holder productivity as well as growth of the region’s private sector operating in the seed industry,” he said.
The development of seed labels and certificates is part of the implementation of the COMESA Seed Harmonisation Implementation Plan (COMSHIP) which is aimed at facilitating regional seed trade. COMESA Agriculture Ministers endorsed the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations In 2015 leading to the launch of the COMSHIP programme to expedite implementation both at national and regional level.
So far, the COMESA Seed programme has facilitated three stakeholders’ meetings on seed certifications and labeling. The first and second meeting were held in February 2018 and April 2019 whose focus was to agree on modalities for production, printing and distribution of COMESA Regional Seed Certificates and labels.
The procurement of the Seed labels and Certificates has been fully sponsored by USAID through COMESA