July 26, 2023

TAAT facilitates Seed Certification and Quality Control in Fragile States

Trainees going through a practical session in a wheat field at KEPHIS Nakuru. PHOTO: Daniel Kyalo
Trainees going through a practical session in a wheat field at KEPHIS Nakuru. (PHOTO: TAAT/Daniel Kyalo)

Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) has facilitated a capacity strengthening training for seed inspectors drawn from Djibouti, Eritrea, Liberia, Mozambique Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

The training, which held in July 2023 at the Centre for Phytosanitary Excellence (COPE) based at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in Nairobi, was organised by the TAAT Policy Compact led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

The training comprised 10 male and 6 female seed inspectors and seed analysts.  The participants received bench-marking training that entailed lectures, laboratory and field training sessions to sharpen their skills in seed quality control and analysis.

The participants also gained exposure from the state-of-the art seed testing facilities and the long-standing seed certification experience at KEPHIS including exposure to practical seed laboratory work at the KEPHIS-ISTA accredited laboratory that plays a critical role in seed quality assurance within East, Central and Southern African region. The delegates also had an opportunity to visit leading seed companies in Kenya (i.e.  Technology Farm, and Kenya Seed Company), where they experienced first-hand seed inspection and processing operations.

 The training covered lectures on a range of topics including: Kenya Seed Policy, current status of seed industry in Kenya; seed industry regulations (variety evaluation and release, plant breeders rights, and seed regulations); status of COMESA & EAC regional seed regulations; seed inspection procedures; seed processing; sampling and labeling; seed testing and seed testing procedures; quality assurance in certification; post-certification seed handling to maintain quality, quality assurance activities for seed distributors, and counterfeit seed challenges.

The participants generally found the study tour very informative, and essential in advancing seed quality control thereby facilitating access to quality seeds by farmers and boosting food productivity in the respective countries. It is anticipated that the participants will also train other officers in their countries, a move that will further build a substantial pool of seed inspectors and analysts with advanced knowledge in seed quality oversight.    

TAAT through its Policy Compact has engaged stakeholders across the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of Africa including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and member states with the aim of identifying critical policy and regulatory gaps hindering wide-scale deployment of crop technologies in Africa.

One of the main challenges identified was the weak capacity in seed inspection and analysis in many countries that needed strengthening. The need to address this challenge made the African Development Bank (AfDB), through the Transition Support Facility (TSF) to fund this training through the TAAT platform.

The TSF seeks to support capacity development and technical assistance activities to bolster innovative, highly impactful and long-lasting agricultural development outcomes in countries with fragile features.

TAAT is a flagship programme of the AfDB’s Feed Africa Strategy. The programme boosts agricultural (crop, livestock and aquaculture) productivity by expanding access to high-yielding agricultural and food production technologies for millions of smallholder farmers across Africa.