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Tanzania works to boost cross-border seed trade with ISTA compliance

Published on January 18, 2018

The USAID Hub is supporting the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) -- the national seed-testing laboratory -- to finalize its accreditation to the International Seed Trade Association (ISTA). Findings by ISTA auditors will guide TOSCI on the steps they need to take for full ISTA accreditation. Tanzania’s compliance with ISTA will boost its cross-border seed trade. In addressing regional policy constraints like lack of harmonized standards, the Hub is helping to increase the flow of seeds within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region. Tanzania’s adoption of equivalent standards will support the growth of the grains, pulses and horticulture value chains.

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 audit is timely to Tanzania 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 (EAGC). 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.