Seed certification is a quality assurance system whereby seed intended for marketing is subject to official control and inspection.
It is important for farmers to access seeds, which are certified by the relevant authorities if they are to maximise production from their efforts, experts dealing with seed certification say. This will enable farmers to access planting materials, which are disease free, high yielding, as well as weed-free materials.
In Uganda, the seed certification exercise is conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture under the crop protection unit. Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture has the National Seed Certification Services (NSCS) whose function is to:
- Initiate formulation of policies, laws, regulations, strategies, standards and plans related to seed and planting material regulation in the country
- Conduct inspection and certification of seed and other planting materials (including vegetative propagated) to ensure compliance to the set national, regional and international standards
- Carry out field inspections for seed fields, factory inspections, mother gardens and nurseries according to set procedures for seed production including OECD seed schemes
- Build capacity for the National Seed Laboratory and acquire accreditation from International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) for issuance of orange certificate for international seed trade
- Create awareness among seed crops, dealers and retailers about the seed quality, its handling, storage and all care for seed and planting materials
- Establish and maintain a database for seed and planting material related issues and information including standards for seed
- Set criteria for certification of vegetative propagated planting materials and instilling traceability among the nurseries that produce them
- Guide production of quality declared seed, its certification, and operate the implementation of the Plant Variety Protection office
The seed certification exercise in Uganda is carried out at the agriculture ministry’s laboratory at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NaRL) Kawanda.
The country has about 23 registered seed companies. But before a company is cleared, it must go through the seed certification exercise.
The seed industry in Uganda, which is purely private sector driven is governed by a seed legislation known as the Seeds and Plant Act, 2006.
The Seeds and Plant Act, 2006 provides for the promotion, regulation and control of plant breeding and variety release, multiplication, conditioning, marketing, export/import, quality assurance of seeds and other planting materials.
- Seed certification exercise is conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture
- Certified seeds help farmers maximise production from their efforts
Importance of planting certified seed
There are many reasons why farmers should use certified seed. It’s the starting point of a successful crop as well as an important risk management tool.
Certified seed is grown and processed under stringent production requirements with strict limits on weeds and other crop kinds.
Certified seed uses strictly monitored quality management systems to maximize varietal purity – making sure you get the specific variety you want. Other varieties and off-types are guaranteed to be minimized.
Guaranteed quality assurance
Inspections in the field and at the processing plant ensure that all quality assurance requirements have been met and documented. Your seed is what you expect it to be, allowing you to back up your assurances to others.
Access to new opportunities
Many end-users require specific varieties for their products. Using Certified seed can open the door to new opportunities and greater sales by providing officially recognized proof of your parent seed varietal identity.
Food safety and traceability are important considerations in agriculture. You can only be sure of your product if you know its origins. Certified seed is the key to that knowledge: production of this seed is carefully controlled under a quality assurance system right from the beginning. Using Certified seed will allow you to capitalize on traceability measures.
Improved traits such as better yield, pest resistance, drought tolerance, herbicide tolerance, and much more are delivered to farmers in Certified seed. Years of research and development went into these traits and they can only be reliably accessed through Certified seed.
Substance behind your word
The blue tag is proof that you used Certified seed to maintain the value traits of the crop. It’s your assurance to grain buyers and others that what you are delivering is what you say it is.
Maximize other inputs
You want the best genetics and the cleanest fields to ensure you are making the most of your input dollars. Planting Certified seed means you’re not wasting time, and the ever-increasing investment required for modern crop production, on seed that won’t reliably produce a top crop.
Access to premium markets
Certified seed is the only input that can get you more than just higher yields. It can be your ticket to premium markets like tofu soybeans or high stability canola and other identity-preserved (IP) markets.
A better deal on crop insurance
In some cases, Certified seed allows you to get a better deal on crop insurance premiums. Insurers know that Certified seed means a crop with reduced risk.