Absence of regulation to guide the promotion of good quality seed has long afflicted the agricultural sector, a loophole that some seed companies have in the past exploited to supply fake seeds to farmers.
In response to this challenge, the 2018 National Seed Policy was drafted to encourage increased use of improved varieties of domestic, regional and international markets. The policy aimed at fostering development of a vibrant seed sub sector in Uganda.
It is against this background that MAAIF, in partnership with The Integrated Seed Sector Development programme in Uganda (ISSD), organised regional dissemination meetings to sensitise the District Agricultural Officers (DAOs) and farmer representatives about the implementation of the policy.
The meeting was held at the Kabarole district headquarters and was attended by all District Agricultural Officers (DAOs) and farmer representatives from the nine districts of Rwenzori sub region.
According to Consolata Acayo, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Information and Communication from the Directorate of Agricultural extension in the Ministry of Agriculture, good quality seed is the foundation of agriculture and solves 60 percent of agricultural problems.
“We need our farmers to know the importance of good quality seed. Many farmers are used to keeping seed from the previous harvest, resulting in poor production,” she said, adding that the dissemination meetings would help stakeholders who are supposed to implement the seed policy.
Dr. Bony Ntare, the seed system and policy consultant with ISSD Uganda said the Seed Policy will be the foundation for the development of Uganda’s agricultural sector and ensure quality assurance for the seed sector.
He advised farmers to buy from only certified companies to avoid fake seed which, he said, affects productivity.
“All seed companies in the country should be regulated for the good of the agriculture sector,” he said.
Moses Erongu, the Senior Seed Inspector, MAAIF, said farmers’ reliance on home-saved seed is the result of a lack of trust in the certified seed available on the market.
Nelson Masereka, the Executive Secretary, Uganda Seed Trade Association, welcomed the intervention, saying that the absence of a regulatory framework has been one of the main challenges facing the sector.
The Uganda Seed Trade Association is an umbrella for seed companies in Uganda and is licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture to produce and market seed.
“Farmers have got a lot of information that has confused them and sometimes they don’t know where to go. For example they have been getting seeds from OWC and they have been blaming our companies over fake seeds,” he said.
Masereka called upon government to help farmers procure quality hybrid seed.
Bangirana Costance a member of Kamwenge Farmers Tukorere Hamwe in Kamwenge district said they multiply bean seeds with the help of National Research Organization (NARO). She said this has helped them avoid fake seeds.
“Some of our farmers don’t buy seeds from our group; they go to shops and end up buying fake seeds which are not certified and end up getting poor yields,” she said.