THE government of Tanzania has attributed the poor harvest registered in the recent past to substandard seeds produced by seed producers
According to the minister for Agriculture, Food, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Charles Tizeba, the poor harvests were a result of inferior quality seeds that had flooded the market.
“Our farmers cannot enjoy bumper harvests if we continue producing such seeds,” observed the minister yesterday when meeting seed and agrochemicals producers here.
While the actual demand for seeds and other agrochemicals were estimated at 12o,000 tonnes, only 36,000 tonnes were in circulation, according to Dr Tizeba.
Out of the available 36,000 tonnes of seeds, 21,000 tonnes were produced in the county, while the remaining 15,000 tonnes were imported.
The minister also revealed that the government would continue to engage agrochemical producers from the private sector with a view to boosting the prospects of producing seeds locally.
“To address such challenges we will have to work closely with the private sector to discourage importation of seeds,” added the minister.
The urge of promoting local production of the seeds comes at a time when most farmers in the country have appealed to the government to subsidize prices of local seeds in a bid to make them cheaper.
For his part, the Executive Director of Tanzania Seed Trade Association (TASTA), Bob Shuma, admitted that the challenges facing the seed industry had direct effects on agricultural productivity.
He singled out the challenges facing the seed sector as inadequate knowledge on intellectual property rights, low participation of local and foreign bodies in seed production and breeding, and limited involvement of the private sector in the multiplication of breeders and foundation seed in order to enable a more ample supply of improved seeds.
The country has amended its legislation, which should give commercial investors faster and better access to agricultural land as well as a very strong protection of intellectual property rights.
Under the new laws, Tanzanian farmers risk a prison sentence of at least 12 years or a fine of over €205,300, or both, if they sell seeds that are not certified.