TUNISIA – Tunisia has become the 19th COMESA Member State to launch the Regional Seed Harmonisation Implementation Plan (COMSHIP).

Other member states who have adopted the plan include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Eswatini, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The overall goal of COMSHIP is to implement the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations which are expected to enhance seed production, reliability, improve seed trade including increasing the competitiveness of the seed industry in the southern and east African region.

The launch was facilitated by the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a specialized agency of COMESA mandated by Heads of State and Governments to integrate smallholder farmers into domestic, regional and international markets through an improved policy environment, expanded market facilities, services and capacity building.

Director of Agriculture and Industry at COMESA Secretariat Mrs Providence Mavubi commended Tunisia for the commitment to regional integration programmes adding that other Member States would benefit from that country’s expertise in agriculture and livestock farming.

“We commend the government of Tunisia’s commitment to COMESA’s agenda and we will continue to encourage exchange visits with other Member States in order for the region to learn from each other and develop the agriculture sector for the benefit of its people,” Mrs Mavubi said.

The launch of COMSHIP in the North African country also enabled the dissemination of Seed trade harmionisation regulations, highlight the status of COMSHIP at regional and national level, distribute the publications on the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulation and develop a national roadmap on the alignment of the Tunisian seed laws to the regional seed harmonisation regulations.

The participants agreed to conduct wider consultative meetings with the stakeholders such as farmer organisations, civil society, non-governmental organisations dealing with seed production and marketing, seed companies, agro-industry and institutions involved in research among others.

Tunisia is expected to fully adopt the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations by June 2022.

COMESA enhances seed trade by developing certified labels

Recently, ACTESA, developed over four million physical seed labels that are ready for use by seed companies in the region.

In line with COMSHIP, the programme has developed the COMESA Variety Catalogue, a platform that contains seed varieties which comply with requirements of having the seed registered in two COMESA Member States.

Once a variety is on the COMESA Variety Catalogue, it does not have to be subjected to more tests and can be imported, marketed and, if necessary, produced in any of the 21 COMESA Member States.

For a variety to be listed on the catalogue it has to be a certified and registered officially in two COMESA Member States, coupled with data of the variety showing the Distinction Uniformity and Stability (DUS) and Value for Cultivation or Use (VCU) / National Performance Tests (NPT).

The labels are aimed to enable companies engage in regional seed trade for large seed consignments crossing the borders and in-country seed trade in smaller packages.

The COMESA Seed Labels are meant to provide an easy passage at the border and they are now available at the COMESA Secretariat at US$0.035/label in order to facilitate regional seed trade within the 21 COMESA Member States.

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