Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Harmonized Seed Security Project (HaSSP) Practical Course in Seed Analysis, Methods and Techniques
Pretoria, South Africa
5 March 2012 - 9 March 2012

Seven seed analysts from Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe attended the course at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Pretoria, South Africa. The key areas covered in the course are: introduction to seed analysis, registration of seed samples, purity analysis, seed identification, germination (including practicals), germination planting procedures, treatment for promoting germination, evaluation of seedlings, reporting of results and application of the plant improvement act (PIA).

This course was designed to address the gaps that were identified by the seed certification audit that was conducted by FANRPAN consultants in four pilot countries (Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) during the period 22 February to 31 March 2011. The auditors were from SANSOR and Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI). The audit focused on the seed field inspection and seed testing capacity of the institutes in the four pilot countries. The major shortcomings identified at the four countries were:

None of the countries currently use the coding/labels and generations/classes as prescribed in the SADC Protocol. In all cases the acquisition of labels are done by seed companies themselves, with only the format prescribed by some countries. For the SADC Scheme it is recommended that this should be provided through the respective Seed Services Authorities to negate unauthorized use thereof.

Record Keeping:
All countries need to establish comprehensive electronic database for SADC Certification in which records of individual units are kept, including registration details, inspection reports and certificates issued.

For SADC Certification Authorization, authorization cards (identity cards), as well authorization certificates must be issued for the licensed inspectors.

All four countries only issue a Seed Analysis Report, which they consider to be a certification certificate, as proof that the seed lot has been certified. These analysis certificates only report on the physical qualities of the seed and no mention is made regarding the varietal purity and seed certification status.

All inspectors should attend regular refresher/standardization courses to maintain their authorization. Most of the inspectors also need to attend a prescribed seed technology course in order to qualify for accreditation/authorization, as required by the SADC Protocol. Regional standardization courses should also be held on a regular basis to ensure that the same inspection procedures are followed throughout the region.

Seed certification is a legally sanctioned system for quality control of seed provision. It includes field inspection, pre and post control as well as seed quality tests. The main objective of seed certification is to maintain and make available to the public high quality seeds and propagating materials.

The audit highlighted the need to standardize seed testing. The need for standardization in seed quality assessments will always be justified, as this is the only way through which actors in regional seed trade will be able to understand and interpret the guarantees regarding seed quality, specified for seed lots traded between the various countries. When seed is traded, it may be tested in different laboratories and it is important that all laboratories use standard methods, designed to give the same result within an acceptable range. The result of a test should be a fair measure of its quality and the test should be made by such methods that other laboratories testing like samples can reproduce the results.

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