Zambia has aligned its national seed laws to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). This will give smallholder farmers access to a variety of quality seeds to improve yields.
COMESA issued a statement that said the harmonisation of the national seed policies is already in effect. It said Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe and Malawi have also reconciled their national seed laws with COMESA.
“Seed is the most critical input in agriculture production, and this development has the potential to increase on-farm output to enhance both household and national food security. Harmonisation of national seed laws is part of the COMESA 2014-2020 Strategy to increase seed production, reliability, trade and competitiveness of the seed industry in the region,” read the statement.
Agriculture contributes about 30% of COMESA’s GDP which stands at US$550 million. However, about 120 million of the 510 million people living in the region suffer from food insecurity.
Compounding this is the fact that only one in every four smallholder farmers has access to quality or improved seed. “This affects the productivity of our smallholder farmers,” says COMESA.
Historically, the regulatory environment surrounding seed production and certification made it costly to do business in the agriculture sector. This discouraged private companies from investing in innovation and expanding production.