By VALENTINE OFORO, ARUSHA

THE Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) has successfully managed to curtail a negative spate of counterfeit seed within the country, according to special research by The African Seed Access Index (TASAI).

The timely research suggests that a reduction in the number of reported cases of fake seed and increased seed companies satisfaction are indications that the government’s efforts to address the problem have borne fruitful results.

In his presentation yesterday at the TASAI’s Tanzania Dissemination Meeting held in Arusha Region, Dr. Firmin Mizabwa, a senior agricultural researcher expressed that seed companies surveyed by TASAI in 2020 reported five cases of counterfeit seed,  which is lower than the 18 cases reported during 2016.

“The researchers have discovered that the government through the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) has been setting up reliable systems to control counterfeit seed in the market,” he said.

He informed that the systems include the aggressive inspection and monitoring of seed businesses through regular inspections in agro dealer shops, an increase in the severity of punitive measures, as well as awareness-raising among the of the effects of counterfeit seed.

“For example, the Seed Act was amended in 2014 (URT 2014) with an eye to increasing the punitive measures for a person who contravene seed laws by selling counterfeit seed from a fine of 5m/- to 50m/-,” he stated.

Moreover, he added that TOSCI has also introduced electronic labels on seed packages, saying when activated the labels allow users to verify if the seed has been inspected and certified.

For his part, Emmanuel Mwakatobe, Official Seed Inspector and analyst from TOSCI’s headquarters expressed that, the state-owned Institute has also introduced an online system to apply for seed labels, seed sampling and testing, seed dealers registration, DUS as well as NPT tests.

” The use of digital tools has been introduced during field inspections, and the development has seriously increased the by the speed of TOSCI’s service delivery,” he expressed.

Moreover, he said TOSCI has yet to train and authorize private inspectors because no private have so far requested it to do so.

” According to TOSCI, local seed inspectors should be made more aware o the possibilities of private seed inspections, which would lead more companies to demand these services,” he insisted.

And he added that digital solutions were useful to help improve seed inspections standards and speed, saying that seed inspectors employed by TOSCI are currently using mobile devices during field inspections to upload field inspection on-site- to the head office for further processing.

” Through these services, seed companies satisfaction with seed inspection services has increased from  ‘fair’ (59 percent) in 2016 to ‘good’ (77 percent) in 2020,” he detailed.

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