Ministry in new drive to improve seed production

20Oct 2020
The Guardian
Ministry in new drive to improve seed production

​​​​​​​THE Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a 10-year’s strategy to improve seed production with a major focus to enable the country reaching local seed adequacy as well as reaping economic fortunes from potential external seed markets.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe.

The robust initiative, however, seeks to ensure for abundant supply of improved and hybrid seed varieties to local farmers.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe said Tanzania was standing a possible opportunity to fetch lucrative profits from external seed markets, hence a need to strengthen local seed production capacity.

According to him, the undergoing major strategy, among others, incorporate serious investments in the side of seed researches, inventions, multiplication as well as quality control.

“To start with, we're currently striving to capacitate performance of the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), Agriculture Seed Agency (ASA) and the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI),” he said.

He observed the target was also to see the country embark on more seed researches in order to invent and produce improved seed varieties for key food and cash crops, but by reflecting and meeting required international standards in order to allow exportation.

He noted, seed availability in the country was now at 80 percent, but insisted that there was still an uphill task ahead to meet demand for the expanded seed demand, at local and international levels.

Apart from hailing good performance so far being engineered by TARI, TOSCI and ASA, he said the parent ministry was in talks with the National Service seeking for more seed researches as well as establishment of vast seed production farms.

“'We're very determined to see the State-owned seed agency (ASA), TOSCI and TARI are equipped with high technological and enough facilities to allow professional researches as well as vast seeds multiplication,” he stated.

Minister for Agriculture, Japhet Hasunga said that the current demand for seed in Tanzania stand at 186,500 tonnes in a year, but the amount that is being produced is only 71,000 tonnes, which means there is a great deficit.

Out of the produced seeds (71,000 tonnes), seeds for food crops are 59, 368MT, whereby 3500MT is for cotton, and the remaining 21368MT is for food crops.

Being on similar efforts, last week, ministry of agriculture launched a modern internal control seed quality laboratory at ASA's headquarters in Morogoro Region, purposefully for enabling the agency to attain professional monitoring of seeds produced in its farms.

ASA’s chief executive officer, Dr Sophia Kashenge said the state-owned agency has successfully managed to advance seed production from 1,220 tonnes during 2017/18 to at least 2,300 tonnes in 2018/19.

TOSCI’s director general, Dr Patrick Ngwediagi, said the institute has been accredited by the Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Seed Certification Schemes as a reliable source of seed varieties, the key development which green lighted the country to start export seeds overseas.