TANZANIA – The Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) has certified at least 482 plant varieties in the period between January and November 2021 in a move aimed to heighten the agricultural sector performance in Tanzania.
The certified plant varieties were based on a total of 79 crops. According to TOSCI Director General, Mr. Patrick Ngwediagi, the development is part of on-going interventions by the seed regulatory organ to ensure the indigenous farmers are adopting the use of improved seeds for better yields.
The Director expressed that the state- owned seed institute is implementing a special strategy to equip the country’s agricultural sector with abundant and improved varieties, saying the move aims also at cutting down mass importation of seeds from outside the country.
“The focus however, is also to motivate local and foreign investors to chip-in and invest largely in the seed production subsector,” he revealed.
In addition, he said TOSCI is continuing to encourage and assist available seed producers to increase production levels in order to cater for the increasing demand of seeds in the country.
Mr. Ngwediagi expounded that the country currently had at least 586 plant varieties of at least 33 different crops registered by the institute.
The available species include maize (160), rice (20), wheat (25), sorghum (15), beans (30), cowpea (5), pigeon pea (6), sesame (4), sweet potato (15) cassava (15) and sunflower with seven varieties. Others are vegetables (210), coffee (15), cashew nuts (40), sugar cane (7), tea (7), and round potato with seven varieties.
“The institute is also working closely with Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) that has a 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, “ he assured.
Despite making a major stride in the seed sector, Mr. Ngwediagi observed that Tanzania is still importing seeds of a number of plant varieties.
“For instance, in 2019 the quantities of seeds importation in terms of tones were; maize (9,267), sunflower (152), paddy (four) round Potatoes (970) and vegetables seeds 482 tones,” he specifically added.
He however informed that in recent years the number of seeds produced within the country has been increasing and currently it amounts to 81percent of the total of certified seeds used.
In an effort to scale up seed production, he said TOSCI is running a special programme to disseminate useful training to seed breeders on professional seed production, so that they can produce quality seeds.
TOSCI is recognized internationally since it has been accredited to International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), admitted to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Seed Certification Schemes, whereby seed produced in Tanzania and certified by TOSCI can now be sold in the country and the excess be exported.
The seed regulatory organ – TOSCI is responsible for field and seed inspection, sampling and 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.