Uganda is at the verge of losing the East African seed market unless government implements a very stringent legal framework to stop sale of fake seed.

The country, reportedly has weak inspection machinery—hardly any government inspection is done on seed farms where seed multiplication takes place.

The Economic Polic Research Centre, at a national debate to finds ways of reorganizing the agriculture sector for higher production on June 6, warned that Kenya would eventually stop buying Ugandan seeds.

According to Julius Kiiza, a senior researcher at the Economic Policy Research Centre, Kenya has maintained restrictions on accessing Ugandan seed.

"KEPHIS (Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service ) insists it cannot allow Uganda seed into Kenya unless it conducts its own on-sight inspection," he said.

KEPHIS is a regulatory agency for quality control of agricultural input and produce in Kenya. The agency coordinates all matters relating to crop pests and disease control, advises the Director of Agriculture on appropriate seeds and planting materials for export and import.

Uganda, like Kenya, subscribes to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development seed system. Therefore, Uganda should export seed to kenya, atleast in theory. However, Kenya does not easily accept Uganda seed.

Kenya has a huge market for seed but Uganda will not take advantage unless it puts its house in order by producing standard seed.Quite a number of Kenyan farmers have been lacking seeds to plant since 2006.

In 2011, atleast 1.3 million farmers in Kenya - more than double the figure for 2010 - did not have any maize seeds to plant that season, despite favourable weather conditions.

It has also been discovered that the National Seed Certification Service is generally incapacitated with very limited resources for its operations and boasts of only two inspectors.

Uganda has failed to establish the national agricultural policy, no seed policy and has no sector-specific regulations. The regulations were discussd almost three years ago via a highly consultative process but the Agriculture Minister has never assented to the regulations.

In the absence of an ineffective legal framework, Uganda risks losing its share of the seed market in East Africa.

Currently, there are 23 private seed companies in Uganda that sell between 10-12,000 MTs of seed of staple crops to farmers each year.

kazcharlie@yahoo.com

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