Govt sets aside sh6b for harmonizing seed trade

Posted on April, 13, 2017 at 11:26 am

The government has set aside sh1.8m dollars for promotion of the common Market for Eastern and South Africa (COMESA) seed harmnisation programme in Uganda. The money will help in training seed traders, seed producers and farmers on the importance of ensuring quality seeds, which are competitive in the regional market.

This was revealed by the COMESA seed harmonization implementation Plan  (COMSHIP) trade programme focal person in Uganda, Dr Charles Mukama, during the second seed committee meeting at Speke Munyonyo, Kampala recently. The meeting facilitated by Food trade, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Uganda Government, aimed at examining the progress and challenges of the programme.

At the 34th meeting of the council of ministers in 2015 in Ethiopia, ministers directed COMESA to fast track the development of seeds across member countries to increase production of food and facilitate productivity of smallholder farmers. “ since Africa produces a lot of food, though it is not enough, and theregion’s  participation in food trade is minimal, the ministers ordered that we fast track the development of seeds so that quality seeds can be accessible to farmers and traders to improve the livelihood of the people in the COMESA and Africa at large,” said. He also noted that Uganda has a high population groeth far outstripping the food production. Challenges to food production include crop diseases and drought.

“ seed is one of the tools we can use because with quality seed, we can manipulate it to have quality, but also make it tolerant or resistant to pests, diseases and droughts; so it is important that we support a process that will give us quality seed,” Mukama said. Argent Chuula, the ED of Alliance for commodity Trade in East and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a COMESA agency that promotes harmonized seed trade, said the quality seed gap in the region stands at 80%.

“The seed trade is further constrained by too many regulations from individual member states,” he said. He added: “so, the harmonization process will take care of the different regulations, which are preventing the release of some varieties. It would also address the lengthy procedures of releasing seeds in member countries which delays quality seeds reaching farmers.” However Stephen Muchiri, the ED of Eastern Africa Farmers Federation called on COMESA to give member countries incentives for the faster adoption of new regulations.

Source:  New Vision | Thursday, April 13, 2017 | Page 46