The USAID Hub recently supported the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) to convene a workshop to develop draft distinctness, uniformity and stability (DUS) test guidelines for priority crops (maize, sorghum, rice and common beans). This follows an extensive field-level survey carried out by TOSCI across Tanzania to collect data to be used to develop the DUS test guidelines for these priority crops. The activity is in response to the general standards set out by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). This partnership is aimed at supporting Tanzania to align with international seed systems and schemes such as UPOV and will contribute to improved seed quality being made available to 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 have been identified as major barriers to the local breeding, production, distribution and sales of improved seed varieties, and key barriers to farmer productivity. This has also resulted in the 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.
Previously, the USAID Hub has supported TOSCI to attain International Seed Trade Association (ISTA) accreditation. Tanzania’s compliance with ISTA will enhance availability of quality seed in the country and boost grain trade with the EAC and other countries.
The Hub’s support serves as a complement to the approved nine revised East Africa Community (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.