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Tanzania works to increase grain trade through improved seed quality

Published on March 29, 2018

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The USAID Hub recently supported the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) to undertake a field-level survey across the Mbeya, Ruvuma and Iringa regions of Tanzania to collect data for the development of distinctness uniformity and stability (DUS) test guidelines for priority crops (maize, sorghum, rice and common beans). The survey will inform general standards as required by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. The Hub is supporting additional field work in Shinyanga, Singida and Arusha regions of Tanzania in April. The field surveys are fundamental to the Hub’s support of TOSCI. The partnership intends harmonize seed standards and align Tanzania’s practices to international seed systems and schemes as a means to contribute to improved quality and availability of seed for producers.

Increased seed trade serves as an enabling factor for increased production and trade of staple foods. In East Africa, disparate seed legislation and regulations across the region has been identified as a major barrier to the local breeding, production, distribution and sales of improved seed varieties in the region, and a key barrier to farmer productivity. This has also resulted in slow growth of local seed companies and the East African seed industry as a whole. The harmonization or alignment of seed policy and regulations is therefore imperative in the region.

The Hub’s support is timely as the East African Community (EAC) Ministerial Council recently approved nine revised EAC Grain Standards after a record-quick revision, approval, and gazetting process led by USAID Hub-grantee Eastern Africa Grain Council. Grain quality inconsistencies among EAC countries have been a major constraint on formal regional trade. The revised standards will improve the flow of quality grain commodities from surplus to deficit regions and, in turn, boost the EAC’s economic growth, resilience and integration.