According to TOSCI, the use of poor quality seeds may in future affect growth of native plant species which will be planted on the same soil. The institute is concerned that damaged soil may lead to farmers incurring losses due to poor harvests.
TOSCI inspector and quality controller, Emmanuel Mwakatobe made the remarks yesterday when speaking during an exercise to destroy five tonnes of sunflower seeds worth 1m/- which were allegedly imported from Malawi.
Mwakatobe said the imported seeds which were already distributed to local markets in Mvomero district, Morogoro region were not certified.
“We inspected various veterinary retail shops in the district and managed to seize five tonnes of poor quality sunflower seeds. The seeds were unfit for our soil and could damage its quality”, he noted.
TOSCI boss added that planting such seeds affect the function of soil within specific ecosystem. He said sunflower farmers using the imported poor quality seeds are likely to experience poor harvests in the next season they plant with locally manufactured seeds.
“Importation of seeds should be done in accordance with country laws, but importers didn’t follow proper channesl”, said Mwakatobe.
He advised farmers to use quality certified seeds which have been approved by TOSCI. He said farmers should always look for certified seeds which are embedded with TOSCI logo.
He also cautioned agents and distributors of agricultural inputs to verify the quality of seeds before purchasing and distributing them to farmers. He urged them to buy seeds from TOSCI to save farmers from huge losses as well as to enhance food security.
Mwakatobe said that illegal importation of seeds violates Article 18 of the Tanzania Seeds Act, 2003 and Section 13 (1-2) which requires agents and distributors of agricultural inputs to adhere to country laws. He said any person importing the seeds illegally can be charged with economic sabotage.
Mvomero district agricultural officer, Peter Mayengera confirmed to have arrested three seed agents for allegedly importing and distributing the poor quality sunflower seeds.
He said the accused persons were arraigned at court on April 12 this year and ordered to pay a fine. He said the court also ordered destruction of the imported seeds.
The accused are Jeremiah Mpunga, Godfrey Thomas and Abdul Ibrahim.