One More Step to Ensure Seeds are Free from Pests and Diseases

  • An upcoming gathering in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire will take one more step to ensure seeds and seedlings are free from pests and diseases;
  • West Africa already has several policy instruments to level the playing field in terms of moving seeds across-borders.

CORAF has in the past decade been carrying out a series of policy reforms on behalf of the regional economic communities to ensure the delivery of quality seeds to farmers and producers across West Africa.

The harmonization of seed regulations stands out among the regional measures intended to level the playing field for cross-border trade in seeds. Since its adoption in 2008 and subsequent efforts to raise awareness of the policy, businesses have increasingly moved seeds across borders. As of January 2021, over 95 percent of ECOWAS-member countries, including Chad and Mauritania, have implemented the measure.

But CORAF wants to take it a step further by ensuring that countries import or export seeds free from pests and diseases and have a common framework for controlling these critical inputs.

At an upcoming meeting planned for March 16-18, 2021, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, experts will take one more step to ensure seeds and seedlings are free from pests and diseases. Over 30 experts drawn from national plant protection units of government agencies, national seed committees, and representatives of regional organizations (UEMOAECOWASCILSS, and CORAF) will validate a draft executive regulation for phytosanitary control and certification.

West Africa already has a set of tools to facilitate cross-border trade in seeds. This executive regulation for phytosanitary control and certification will further complement existing policy measures.

“The overarching objective of this proposal is to ensure that the marketed seeds are healthy and free from all pests and diseases,” says Dr. Yacouba Diallo, a regional seed expert at CORAF who has been working on seed policy for more than a decade.

“This measure helps increase trade of quality seeds across countries, eventually allowing farmers to have access to healthy and quality seeds.” 

Seamless cross-border trade in seeds requires uniform approaches to evaluating their quality. The new executive regulation to be validated in Abidjan will allow States to have a standard assessment, analytical, and certification framework.

Soon after the measure is validated, it would be submitted to the West Africa Regional Seed and Seedling Committee (WARSSC) for adoption. WARSSC primary mission is to facilitate the implementation of the harmonized regional seed regulation and, as a result, creating favorable conditions for the emergence of a strong seed industry capable of ensuring a regular supply, at the right time, of sufficient quantities of quality seeds in the 17 countries of the sub-regional space. Country-level stakeholders would be trained to ensure effective implementation of the regulation. 

CORAF is carrying out this activity under the Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development in West Africa (PAIRED). The PAIRED is a five years intervention aimed at building the institutional capacity of CORAF, scaling up proven technologies, and ensuring quality delivery of seeds. It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

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