ZAMBIA is among best seed producers in the COMESA region and satisfies both local and export markets, says agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa
Mr Shawa said Zambia currently produced about 80, 000 metric tons of certified and quality seeds of maize and other small crops annually for exports.
He said the Zambian seed industry had developed and has in place a seed policy and legislation governing certification, variety and export and variety protection
Mr Shawa was speaking during the official launch of the COMESA seed committee in Lusaka on Friday.
He however said the majority of seeds imported were mainly vegetables and other seeds difficult and expensive to produce in Zambia.
Mr Shawa explained that the formal sector had a well-organized and structures system of production, distribution and marketing seed while the informal sector was characterized by localized seed production.
“Quality assurance system in the sector is implemented by the ministry of agriculture through the country national seed authority, the seed control and certification institute (SCCI),” he said.
He said Zambia participated effectively in the coming up with the COMESA seed committee.
Mr Shawa said prior to commercialization of any crop in Zambia, the variety was usually officially tested for identity and performance by SCCI over two seasons after which it would be released by a broad-based variety release committee(VRC).
He also said a total of 1,000 verities of different crops had been released in Zambia since 1964 out of which 32.6 percent were of maize.
Speaking earlier, COMESA assistant secretary general Dr Kipyego Cheluget said access to improved or quality seed among 80 million smallholder farmers in the region was low at 23 percent.
Dr Cheluget said that the low percentage resulted into low productivity especially on cereal like maize, sorghum and pearl millet.
“The population in COMESA countries is increasing at 2.3 percent while food production was increasing at 2 percent, a situation that has brought about food insecurity,” he said.
He said COMESA had harmonized seed policies for all member states in order to promote the agriculture sector.
The COMESA seed committee has been established to provide technical support for the implantation and improvement of the seed system.
It was also expected to consider and recommend amendments to the rules, directives, and standards of the seed system.