COMESA bemoans quality seed availability

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 09:48:35 +0000

By PRINCE CHIBAWAH

OUT of 80 million small-holder farmers in COMESA region only 20 percent have access to quality and improved seed, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has revealed.

COMESA assistant secretary general, Dr Kipyego Cheluget said access to quality and improved seed had remained a challenge for many small holder farmers in COMESA region.

Dr Cheluget said this yesterday in a speech delivered by COMESA Senior Investment Officer, Joseph Mupanga at the COMESA seed labels and regional certificates consultative meeting held at Southern Sun Hotel in Lusaka.

“I would like to state that out of 80 million small-holder farmers in COMESA region only 20 percent have access to quality and improved seed,” he said.

He said the potential total seed market in COMESA region was at two million metric tonnes of quality and improved seed.

However, the region was currently producing or accessing less than 520, 000 metric tonnes of quality and improved seed.

“This has affected about 130 million people out of total 520 million COMESA population remaining food insecure, experience chronic poverty and hunger,” said Dr Cheluget.

He attributed this to the fact that regional seed market was fragment into small national markets. “Each country operates its own seed policies and regulations different from other COMESA member states. Seed companies therefore enter each of the national seed markets available.

“This is not only costly to the private sector but also results in prolonged delays before seed of good quality can find its way to the farmers.”

Dr Cheluget said although the region was home to some of the major seed producing countries including Zambia, the levels of supply remained stagnant.

The meeting was attended by representatives from Zambia, Kenya, Egypt and Malawi, among others.

And Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary, Julius Shawa said Zambia was at the moment producing about 130, 000 metric tonnes of seeds of which 60, 000 metric tonnes was being exported.

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