THE US government, in partnership with the Southern African Development Community secretariat and the Zambian government has formally commissioned the first hybrid maize seed export, worth $370,000, from Zambia to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It is an honour to be the first, especially when it is about economic development, food and nutrition, and this maiden export is no exception. The Zambian government looks forward to a future where the trade of improved seed varieties between our nations is not such a novelty, but a matter of best practice,” said agriculture minister Michael Katambo. “Today is just the beginning and Zambia, along with the other SADC Member States, is committed to the full domestication of the Harmonised Seed Regulatory System.”
According to a statement, the first of its kind to be commissioned under the SADC Harmonised Seed Regulatory System (HSRS) and Seed Certification and Quality Assurance guidelines, the export process offers a path forward for SADC countries to move high-quality seed varieties listed in the SADC Regional Variety Catalogue across borders and ensure consistency to those improved seeds.
“On behalf of the US government, I am here to reinforce our commitment to economic growth in SADC. The United States believes every person, every community, and every country wants to be empowered to lead their own future,” said USAID/Zambia director Sheryl Stumbras. “We support self-reliance by walking alongside our friends on their development journey.”
The statement stated that issues such as variations in national seed-certification and quality-control standards have historically complicated seed trade between countries, and made it difficult to move emergency seed consignments across borders.
It stated that as a result, new and existing seed entrepreneurs are discouraged from investing in the market.
The regional seed trade pilot will provide valuable lessons regarding the feasibility of the recently passed SADC Seed Certification and Quality Assurance guidelines.
Funded by the US government through USAID, this pilot was unofficially launched last December as a joint venture between the Feed the Future Southern Africa Seed Trade Project, SADC FANR, Seed Co Zambia Ltd, and the Zambian government. Under the partnership, Seed Co Zambia Ltd planted 200 tonnes worth of hybrid maize seed composed of three varieties (SC647, SC637 and SC719) in accordance with the SADC HSRS requirements.