ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
ZAMBIA has aligned its national seed laws to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) seed policies that will enable smallholder farmers’ access to a variety of quality inputs to improve their harvests.
According to a statement issued by COMESA head for corporate communications Mwangi Gakunga, that other countries that also aligned their national regulatory seed laws include Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
The harmonisation of the national seed policies took place at a launch in Kenya last week that was hosted by COMESA in partnership with the Food Trade East and Southern Africa (ESA) programme.
Officiating at the event, Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said seed is the most critical input in agriculture production and has the potential to increase on-farm output to enhancing both household and national food security.
He urged the remaining countries to hasten the outstanding processes so that the objective of enhancing access to adequate, affordable and high quality seed and food security within COMESA is achieved.
“This launch is the culmination of a long journey that we have travelled together. A journey that begun when the COMESA Ministers of Trade, Natural Resources and Environment endorsed the COMESA harmonisation implementation plan (COMSHIP) in February 2015.
“The aim of harmonising country seed laws and regulations under the COMSHIP is meant to bring about consistent domestication, application, monitoring and improvement in seed certification, quarantine and phytosanitary measures and in the evaluation and release of seed varieties among COMESA member countries,” Mr Bett said in a speech read for him by Kenya’s principal secretary for Agriculture Richard Lesiyampe.
He said the role of governments is to provide an enabling environment by formulating and implementing supportive monitoring framework for the seed industry.
“Historically, the regulatory environment surrounding seed production and certification has made it costly to do business in the agriculture sector, discouraging private sector companies from investing in innovation and expanding production,” he said.