Gaborone - In an effort to improve food security, Botswana has become the latest country in Southern Africa to sign the Charter on Establishing the SADC Seed Centre (SSC).
At the signing ceremony of the Protocol for Protection of New Varieties of Plants in the SADC region and the Charter Establishing the Seed Centre, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Edwin Dikoloti said the SSC would improve farmers’ access to high quality seed.
Dikoloti said the SSC would govern co-operation of SADC member states in the co-ordination of seed certification and quality assurance.
He said in February 2010 SADC ministers responsible for Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the SADC Harmonised Regulatory System, which establishes commonly agreed standards, rules and procedures for seed certification and quality assurance across the region.
“Botswana is working around the clock to ensure that the Seed Variety Bill and Plant Protection Bill are enacted by parliament (soon),” said Dikoloti.
The minister emphasised that quality seed was key to improving productivity and guaranteeing food security by ensuring food resource diversification and prevention of genetic erosion.
The SSC maintains a seed variety catalogue that is open to the public. The catalogue contains seed varieties that have been approved by SADC for release into general circulation.
SADC also maintains that the region’s agricultural sector should invest more in new technologies and inputs and marketing infrastructure.
The Protocol for Protection of New Varieties of Plants in the SADC is designed to make it easier and less expensive for farmers to access new and existing varieties. It is hoped that this will also stimulate development of more varieties.