Deliberations on the International Seed Conference
The world is facing a global population rise, expected to reach a staggering amount of about 10 billion mouths to feed by 2050. This would result to a rising demand to produce 50% more nutritious food to adequately feed everyone. This calls for efficient food systems, which starts at the production level. Access to quality seeds can be a significant factor in generating increased productivity, nutrition and economies of scale for any food system. Nothing beats quality seeds
Given the importance of efficient seed systems in Tanzania, The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) sponsored an International Seed Conference on 10th June 2022. The conference was co-organized in Arusha by the Agricultural department of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Tanzania together with the World Vegetable Centre. This conference brought together key horticultural stakeholders, policy makers, researchers, trainers, sector associations and private sector to deliberate on the access and use of quality seed in Tanzania for a robust and vibrant seed system in Tanzania, with a special focus on vegetable seeds.
Over a one-day conference, stakeholders discussed the current status and challenges and explored ways through which the government can collaborate with the key stakeholders to unlock the sector potentials by addressing the challenges facing the entire seed sub sector. Special guests at the event were Deputy Permanent Secretary Hon. Mr. Gerald Mweli and the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Tanzania H.E Ambassador Wiebe de Boer. They encouraged Tanzania to execute quick-win reforms to foster greater private-sector participation in the seed sector to stay competitive in the market.
Cooperation with the Netherlands in the seed sector
As a trusted, innovative and solution-driven partner in the agriculture sector, the Netherlands believes that every good harvest starts with quality seed, and Tanzania has the potential to provide quality seeds not only for local use, but also for regional and global use. This can be manifested by the presence of top international seed breeders in the world from the Netherlands working in the Tanzania seed sector based in the Northern circuit. The Netherlands is keen to share its expertise on seed with other countries.
Spotting the gaps on seed ecosystem in Tanzania
The Tanzanian seed system has slightly grown over the years as observed from the increase in seed enterprises, the number of agro-dealers, improved public seed services, and overall increased volumes of certified seed. But the use of quality seed remains lower than expected, and vegetable seed is not exceptional. There is no coubt that good quality seed is fundamental to growth and development for both the agriculture sector and other sectors of the economy. Overall, the vegetable seed system in the country is divided into three sub-systems: formal, informal, and intermediate sub-systems, none of which are functioning well.
In addition, the development of the vegetable seed sector is beset by the lack of policy clarity on seed development and variety release in Tanzania and within the EAC and SADC regions. During deliberations, a number of enabling environment issues were raised. To mention just a few;
- taxation (uncertainty of VAT on multiplication of seed for export)
- long process to register varieties
- limited access to land for seed production and multiplication
- weak research-industry linkages
- prevalence in the market of substandard and fake seeds.
Overall higher compliance and production costs creates unfavourable conditions for the seed sector to flourish. In the coming days, Tanzania Seed Trade Association (TASTA) will spearhead advocacy of some of the reforms in cooperation with the World Vegetable Centre (host) and TAHA.
For sector transformation, there is a need to establish seed demand-supply gap, harmonization of regulations and devise a roadmap towards resolving critical challenges for efficient seed production and trade.
Commitment from the Government
The guest of honor Mr. Gerald Mweli, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, had this to say;
“The government of Tanzania commits to improve the agricultural value chain. This is proven by doubling the 2022/23 budget for the Ministry of Agriculture (crops) from Sh228 billion to Sh751 billion.”
The above statement highlights the priorities set by the government in supporting the growth of the seed sector in particular, which includes improving production and distribution of seeds. TZS 300 billion had been set aside for irrigation schemes and improving research.
Mr. Mweli confirmed that Tanzania’s rich endowments would not benefit the ordinary citizens if they are not transformed into tangible services. Quality seeds are inevitable if the country isto attract lucrative markets, boost production and ensure the farmer receives value for money.
Commitment was made to liaise with sister ministries to resolve presented challenges in the meeting from taxation and other hiccups falling outside the mandate of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Impression of the Exhibition and networking event
At the end of these discussions, a range of products and services were showcased for exhibition as part of networking event.
- To request the full report on the International Seed Conference, please contact the Embassy via firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information about seed sector contact Tanzania, contact Seed Trader Association (TASTA) via Mr. Baldwin (Bob) Shuma email@example.com
- For more inforamtion about World Vegetable Center, contact Dr. Gabriel Rugalema firstname.lastname@example.org
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