The Tanzanian seed sector’s ability to trade seeds abroad received a major boost with the accreditation of the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) National Laboratory by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA).
TOSCI is the government institute under the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) responsible for regulating seed in Tanzania.
ISTA is an internationally recognized seed testing association that produces internationally agreed rules for seed sampling and testing.
Accreditation to ISTA will enhance the availability of quality seed in Tanzania and increase the seed sector’s confidence in TOSCI’s seed certification, boosting Tanzania’s seed trade with East African Community (EAC) countries and beyond.
Unveiling Tanzania’s accreditation to ISTA, Hon. Eng. Charles Tizeba, Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, said, “Good quality seed is fundamental for agricultural productivity. It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure the agricultural supply chains are working well.”
Hon. Eng. Tizeba also stated that “the ISTA accreditation of laboratories will make Tanzanian seeds easily acceptable to other countries.”
Tanzania is an important seed producer and agricultural trading country in the EAC region. However, disparate seed legislation and regulations represent a major barrier to the local breeding, production, distribution, and sale of improved seed varieties.
Tanzania Seed Sector
According to the Tanzania Brief 2017 of The African Seed Access Index (TASAI), the seed industry in Tanzania consists of two systems: the informal sector and the formal sector.
The informal sector is the system where farmers produce, obtain, maintain, and distribute seed resources, from one growing season to the next.
Due to factors such as limited knowledge, lack of a wide variety of seeds, limited resources to purchase seed, and poor access to agro‐dealers, most small‐holder farmers in Tanzania still rely on the informal system, especially for legumes.
The formal sector focuses on breeding and evaluating improved varieties, and producing and selling seed of these varieties that are certified by TOSCI.
Tanzania currently has 46 active breeders for the four priority crops: maize, beans, soya bean, and pigeon pea.
Maize is clearly the most prominent crop in Tanzania. Since 2000, 124 varieties of maize have been released, compared to 15 for beans, 4 for soya bean, and 7 for pigeon pea.