According to Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) Director-General, Mr Patrick Ngwediagi, the Certifying of over 480 Plant varieties in Tanzania is part of ongoing interventions by the seed regulatory organ to ensure the indigenous farmers are adopting the use of improved seeds for better yields.
AT least 482 plant varieties have been certified by the TOSCI in the period between January and November 2021.
That has been done in a move aimed to heighten the agricultural sector performance in Tanzania. The certified plant varieties were based on a total of 79 crops.
The director expressed that the state-owned seed institute is implementing a special strategy to equip the country’s agricultural sector with abundant and improved varieties, saying the move aims also at cutting down mass importation of seeds from outside the country.
“The focus, however, is also to motivate local and foreign investors to chip-in and invest largely in the seed production subsector,” he revealed.
Together with that, he said TOSCI is continuing to encourage and assist available seed producers to increase production levels to cater for the increasing demand for seeds in the country.
Giving broader details, Mr Ngwediagi said the country was currently with at least 586 plant varieties of at least 33 different crops registered by the institute.
He disclosed the crop species with a number of available varieties in brackets as 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), sugar cane (7), tea (7), and round potato with seven varieties.
“The institute is also working closely with Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) that has a mandate on variety development as well as other private breeders so that new plant varieties can be released and registered by TOSCI to provide better choices to farmers, ” he assured.
Despite making a major stride in the seed sector, Mr Ngwediagi observed that Tanzania is still importing seeds of several plant varieties.
He specifically added: “For instance, in 2019 the quantities of seeds importation in terms of tones were; maize (9,267), sunflower (152), paddy (four) round Potatoes (970) and vegetable seeds 482 tones,” he said.
But he informed that in recent years the number of seeds produced within the country has been increasing and currently it amounts to 81percent of the total of certified seeds used.
To scale up seed production, he said TOSCI is running a special programme to disseminate useful training to stakeholders (seed breeders) on professional seed production so that they can produce quality seeds.
TOSCI is recognized internationally since it has been accredited to International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), admitted to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Seed Certification Schemes, whereby seed produced in Tanzania and certified by TOSCI can now be sold in the country and the excess is exported.
The seed regulatory organ – TOSCI is responsible for field and seed inspection, sampling and testing, variety evaluation and verification through National Performance Trials (NPT), Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability tests (DUS) and control plot testing.
Tanzania is also a member of the International Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), since 2015.