By VALENTINE OFORO, DODOMA

THE Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) is implementing a special strategy to ensure the country’s agricultural sector is equipped with enough improved seed varieties for the key crops as well as cutting-down mass importation of seeds.

The plan, among others focuses to motivate more investors to chip-in and invest largely in seed production, as well as encouraging on-going seed producers to increase production levels in a bid to comply with increasing demand of seeds in the country.

In an exclusive interview to East Africa Herald, TOSCI Director General, Mr Patrick Ngwediagi, said the country was currently with at least 586 plant varieties of at least 33 different crops registered by the institute.

He named the crop species with number of available varieties in brackets as maize (160 varieties), rice (20), wheat (25), sorghum (15), beans (30), cowpea (5), pigeon pea (6), sesame (4), sweet potato (15), cassava (15) and sunflower 7 varieties.

Others are vegetables (210), coffee (15), cashew nut (40), sugar cane (7), tea (7), and round potato 7 varieties.

To improve the situation, he expressed, “The institute is also working closely with Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) which has mandate on variety development as well as other private breeders so that new plant varieties can be released and registered by TOSCI to provide better choices to farmers, ”

Ngwediagi also informed that Tanzania was still importing seeds of a number of plant varieties:”In 2019 the quantities of seeds importation in terms of tones were, maize (9267), sunflower (152), paddy (4) round Potatoes (970) and vegetables seeds 482 tones”

He observed however, in recent years, the amount of seeds produced home (Tanzaa) has been increasing and currently it amounts to 81pc of the total of certified seeds used.

Pertaining to quality of home produced seeds, Ngwediagi assured: “So long as the seeds have gone through Certification process, the quality is the same, for locally produced and imported seeds,”

According to him, to fuel a pace of seed production, TOSCI is also providing training to stakeholders on seed production so that they can produce quality seeds.

With its headquarters based in Morogoro, the institute (TOSCI) is now recognized internationally since it has been accredited to International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) admitted to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Seed Certification Schemes, whereby seed produced in Tanzania and certified by TOSCI can now be sold in the country and the excess can be exported to other countries.

TOSCI is responsible for field and seed inspection, sampling, seed testing, variety evaluation and verification through National Performance Trials (NPT), Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability tests (DUS) and control plot testing.

Tanzania is also a member of the International Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), since 2015.

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