by Wallace Mawire
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiatives on harmonization of seed policies are at an advanced stage with only a few countries still to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The initiatives are being conducted under the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Harmonized Seed Security Project.
According to Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, FANRPAN CEO and Head of Mission, farmers in the SADC region remain seed insecure due in part to conflicting seed laws, regulations and procedures.
These are reported to hinder the timely movement of seed across the region’s borders.
Sibanda says as a solution, FANRPAN has proposed the seed policies harmonization to increase seed flow across national borders.
She says there is need to harmonize variety release, seed certification and phytosanitary measures for seed.
As part of its intervention measures, FANRPAN launched the SADC Seed Security Network phase 1 in 2001.This was initiated to contribute to policy dialogue and elimination of trade barriers hindering intra-regional seed trade.
Seed harmonization initiatives in SADC were proposed in 1987 in the Danagro study of national seed systems. In 1988-2003, 11 regional meetings and five national workshops on seed harmonization were conducted.
In 2007 three SADC seed harmonization protocols were finalised and endorsed. In 2010 an MOU for the implementation of SADC seed regulation systems was signed.
“As of 2012, 9 SADC countries have signed the MOU,” Dr Sibanda says.
She says that countries which are yet to sign the MOU in SADC include Angola, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Sibanda has also revealed that FANRPAN is conducting a pilot study to ensure that the regional protocol on seed policy harmonization is domesticated and implemented in-oder to benefit farmers.
The duration of the pilot project is from 2010 to 2013 and it is being funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
The pilot will result in review, alignment and domestication and implementation of the SADC protocol, enhanced availability of varieties, increased investment in the seed sector to open up markets.
Other anticipated outcomes include improving seed quality,reduced seed importation costs.This will also result in organised and trained small-holder seed growers and a common seed certification scheme.
Sibanda says that as part of alignment of national legislation a policy study was commissioned by FANRPAN in June 2012 to examine the standard domestication processes in the pilot countries.
This was meant to assess the challenges faced by national task teams in policy alignment.