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CALR - The SADC Harmonized Seed Regulatory System
A Review of National Seed Policy Alignment Processes in HaSSP Project Countries
August 2012


In February 2010, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the implementation of the 'SADC Harmonised Seed Regulatory System'. The Harmonized Seed Regulatory System is an intricate ensemble of rules, standards, procedures and supporting measures necessary to facilitate the movement of seed (as a commodity) between countries in the region. It establishes commonly agreed regulatory standards, rules and procedures related to: Seed Variety Release; Seed Certification and Quality Assurance; and Quarantine and Phytosanitary Measures for Seed. The rationale for this System is premised on the need to facilitate enhanced seed trade in the region and to increase the availability of high quality seed to farmers through rationalizing and removing national regulatory barriers for the movement of seed across borders. This is expected to promote economies of scale in seed supply and to reduce market uncertainty (Rohbrach, 2003). This system represents an attempt to remove technical barriers to trade (TBT) in the regional seed market.

In order for the System to be functional, it requires SADC Member States to align their national seed regulations to the common standards, rules and procedures outlined in the SADC Harmonized Seed Regulatory System. The result of this alignment is what is known as 'harmonization'. In other words, 'harmonization' is a 'resultant status', a 'net result' of national policy and legislative reform processes undertaken to correspond to the commonly agreed standards, rules and procedures. Lerner (2008) described the objective of harmonization as reducing regulatory duplication, overlaps and divergence between Member States. While harmonization is often misconstrued to mean creating uniform national regulations; it actually permits for differences in the form of national regulations, but emphasizes on the similarity of net results of the 'commonly agreed principles'. Therefore, harmonization is not about enacting uniform seed rules in each SADC country, but it is about developing a common legal culture on seed regulation that is consistent with the commonly agreed standards, rules and procedures.

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