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Naro takes steps to check adulteration of seeds

It is important for farmers to grow crops out of quality seed which is either open pollinated or highbred seed in order to obtain good yields.

However, in Uganda the seed system is being managed by the informal sector where checks for quality seed system along the value chain is infiltrated by adulterated seed making it difficult for farmers to obtain quality seed.

Background
Agricultural experts observe that limited production and delivery of early generation seed sometimes called breeder seed is a major constraint for smallholder farmers in Uganda.

Access to high quality seed remains a challenge despite the investments put into the seed sector development programmes.

Seed companies, local seed businesses and community seed multiplication programmes all need foundation seed.

However, seed companies face various challenges while trying to access foundation seed, which include quality issues around foundation seed and shortage of foundation seed for certain varieties.

The National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) and its constituent research institutes depend on funds released by government and development partners annually and most of the time these funds are not adequate to budget for seed production.

There is also a lack of coordinated planning and information sharing between breeders and seed companies.
Seed companies and local seed breeders often do not make good projections to enable proper planning by breeders.

This creates a shortfall in the production of breeder seed, subsequently affecting the production of foundation seed.
On the other hand foundation seed is one of the key inputs in producing quality seed.

As such, scientists from Naro have come up with a concept saying to understand its importance, the role of foundation seed in the value chain must be determined by breeding institutions because it is one of the key inputs in producing quality seed.

Seed certification
The scientists have come up with an agreement with the seed companies to sign a memorandum of understanding where seed companies are required to acquire certificate from Naro for acquisition of breeder seed for onward seed production.

The Intellectual Property Committee chairperson, Dr Sylvester Dickson Baguma, while giving the background of the agreement notes that previously seed companies would acquire foundation seed from breeders from Naro institutes at individual negation or from which ever source they deemed fit.

However, this is no longer the case because seed companies are expected to make an order of the quantity they wish to acquire from Naro, through Naro Holdings Ltd which is the marketing arm of the Institute.

This, therefore, meant each seed company paying a commitment fee of Shs8m and they will be charged different rates for every foundation seed purchased.

This, to him gives seed companies a commitment to produce quality seed for release to farmers.
Only 15 out of the 35 seed companies have heeded the new condition, according to Dr Baguma.

Each seed company has been given certificate of operation for crop varieties that suit their areas of operations and the crops include cereals such as maize, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, sunflower, beans and soy beans, among others.

Naro deputy director general in charge of agricultural technology promotion, Dr Sadik Kassim, notes that there is a lot of seed adulteration in the seed value chain. According to Dr Sadik, Naro scientists are aware that there is interference of the genetic and physical purity seed which must be checked.

He says low quality seed may occur during transportation, storage and poor harvest handling.

Key facts
The scientists have come up with an agreement with the seed companies to sign a memorandum of understanding where seed companies are required to acquire certificate from Naro for acquisition of breeder seed for onward seed production.

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