Quality assurance by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has previously focused on seed produced in the formal seed system. However with the emergence of other quality seed producers such as LSBs and other organized farmer groups, it has become crucial that MAAIF regulates quality of seed produced by these entities in order to guard against poor quality seed and counterfeiting. Since this is not current practice, a pilot was needed to see what it takes to provide quality assurance services for quality declared seed. The pilot includes quality assurance by MAAIF through delegating District Agricultural Officers (DAOs) to undertake part of MAAIF’s inspection roles as agreed upon by District Local Governments (DLGs), LSBs and MAAIF.
MAAIF’s Department of Crop Protection, LSBs and DLGs are jointly implementing a one year innovation project on quality assurance for LSB seed. The project aims to improve quality assurance through bridging the seed inspection gap. Inspectors from MAAIF have trained LSB representatives from the internal quality control committees and DAOs in aspects of seed production, quality control and quality assurance. The LSBs have produced quality seed under the guidance and inspection of their internal quality control committees, DAOs and MAAIF inspectors.
MAAIF seed samplers collected samples from the LSB seed for testing and issued official seed analysis certificates. Results from two LSBs in Mahyoro and Kyazanga showed germination rates above 90% for bean seeds. The seed analysis certificates will be the basis on which MAAIF will issue quality declared seed labels (green) to LSBs that meet the requirements. LSBs will then sell their approved seed as quality declared seed.
Counterfeit seed refers to grain that has been coloured or in other ways has been disguised to look like seed. Limited awareness of quality seed, weak distribution networks for quality seed and absence of laws to deal with perpetrators of counterfeit seed are some of the reasons that explain counterfeit seed on the market today. In order to reduce counterfeit seed in West Nile, NilePro Trust Limited (Community Based Organisation in Arua District), Arua District Local Government, Koboko District Local Government, Uganda National Agro-input Dealers Association (UNADA) and Abi Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Abi ZARDI) are jointly implementing an innovation project using council resolutions on counterfeit seed; registration of agro-input dealers and raising awareness on quality seed in Arua and Koboko districts.
The key implementing stakeholders have developed key messages for raising awareness on quality seed which are currently dealers and meetings, drama, community radio campaigns, radio jingles and radio spot messages. The stakeholders have developed draft council currently under review. They are also currently and registering agro-input dealers will handling and marketing after which they will be inspected to ensure conformity.
NaSARRI has for a long time been the sole producer for groundnut foundation seed supplying to seed producers all over the country and beyond. Due to lack of prior seed demand information and inadequate financing, it has become difficult for NaSARRI to meet the erratic demand and subsidize costs for groundnut foundation seed. Farmers actually consider groundnut foundation seed costs at NaSARRI and transport costs to obtain foundation seed from NaSARRI prohibitive.
Ngetta Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute, NaSARRI, Tic Ryemo Can Local Seed Business in Nwoya District and Aye Medo Ngeca Local Seed Business in Dokolo District are undertaking a joint innovation project where groundnut foundation seed will be made more available at a reduced cost. This involves a comparison of the groundnut foundation seed production costs at NaSARRI and production costs at Local Seed Business sites. The project is implemented in Dokolo and Nwoya District Local Governments.
Many farmers in Uganda do not buy quality seed because they lack sufficient knowledge on the tangible benefits of quality seed and proper agronomic practices needed to realize optimal benefits of quality seed; lack experience with the quality seed or do not know where to obtain the quality seed. It is for this reason that NASECO is jointly working with Wageningen UR Uganda to improve uptake of quality seed by farmers using three key strategies i.e. improving knowledge on quality seed, giving farmers first-hand experience with quality seed and improving availability of quality seed to farmers.
NASECO is improving farmer knowledge on quality seed through farmer field demonstrations, radio talk shows, field days and illustrated planting guides. NASECO is also giving farmers first-hand experience with quality seed by distributing free baby seed packs of hybrid maize to them. In addition, NASECO is improving availability of quality seed to farmers by identifying and training seed sellers within the local farming communities in the latest agronomic practices, seed handling, storage and marketing.
Finally, NASECO is working jointly with Wageningen UR Uganda to assess the effectiveness of improving knowledge on quality seed, giving farmers first-hand experience with quality seed and improving the availability of quality seed in farming communities, on improving uptake of quality seed by farmers. Wageningen UR Uganda and NASECO will share experiences and lessons learned from the innovation project with key seed sector stakeholders at the end of the project.