TANZANIA – Tanzania is setting up a new genetic reference library to serve as an information center for all genetic materials in the seed industry in the country.

Agriculture in Tanzania represents almost 30 percent of the country’s GDP, with three-quarters of the country’s workforce involved in this sector.

Agriculture is undoubtedly the largest and most important sector of the Tanzanian economy, with almost half (45 percent) of the country’s land classified as agricultural land and 15 percent as arable.

The Tanzanian Government has entrusted Tanzania Official Seed Certification (TOSCI), established under the Seeds Act No. 18, 2003, with safeguarding the farming community from procuring poor quality or fake seeds from vendors of farm inputs.

The new genetic reference library under construction is set to lock out of the market fake or substandard seeds. TOSCI already has a state-of-art laboratory in Morogoro tasked with the accreditation of seeds.

“This is among measures to ensure only quality seeds are in the market,” said Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute Director General Patrick Ngwediagi.

He said the government agency was determined to have all seeds planted certified to improve crop productivity.

Mr. Ngwediagi regretted that there was little awareness among the farmers and other players in the seed value chain on quality seeds as well as some seed traders or distributors still either selling fake seeds or using fake labels for the same.

The drawbacks are being addressed through the introduction of electronic labels “that will toss out fake seeds” and the development of new seed certification standards that await approval.

Electronic labels (e-labels) were a result of electronic certification (e-certification) of seeds already in place, in partnership with Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTCL).

Tanzania is a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Ipov), an intergovernmental body based in Geneva, which aims to promote an effective system of plant variety protection as well as encourage the development of new varieties of plants.

Between January and November 2021, TOSCI certified at least 482 plant varieties based on a total of 79 crops as part of ongoing interventions by the seed regulatory organ to ensure that indigenous farmers are adopting the use of improved seeds for better yields.

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), sugarcane (7), tea (7), and round potato with seven varieties.

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