By Joyce Ojanji

To improve seed certification and seed testing in African countries, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), in collaboration with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), has held a five-day capacity training for seed analysts and inspectors from Mali, Chad, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The training of trainers, organized by AATF and facilitated by KEPHIS through the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) – Transition Support Facility (TSF), with funding from the African Development Bank, is to enhance improved agricultural productivity and promote agricultural transformation in the continent.

The topics discussed included Kenya’s seed policy, the current status of the seed industry in Kenya; seed industry regulations (variety evaluation and release, plant breeders’ rights, and seed regulations); the status of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) & East African Community (EAC) seed regulations; seed inspection proceduresseed processing; sampling and labeling; seed testing and seed testing procedures; quality assurance in certification; post-certification seed handling to maintain quality, quality assurance activities for seed distributors, and counterfeit seed challenges.

They also learnt practical experiences of field seed inspection, laboratory analysis including purity and germination analysis as well as inspections at seed processing facilities.

The training allows the seed experts to gain exposure to advanced seed testing and inspection techniques from the Center of Phytosanitary Excellence and the State-of-the-Art International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) accredited lab at KEPHIS.

According to Dr. Francis Nang’ayo, the Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs, AATF through the TAAT programme aims to enhance seed quality control across Africa by facilitating experience sharing and capacity enhancement to seed inspectors across the continent through such training forums.

‘’We are committed, with Center of Phytosanitary Excellence (COPE) to continue collaborating with AATF to achieve the stated goal, ’’noted Simon Maina, the Head of Seed Certification and Plant Variety Protection at KEPHIS.

This is the 2nd year of training seed experts through Phytosanitary excellence and best practices in the region, after a similar one that targeted South Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Somalia, and DRC in July 2023. A total of 28 seed inspectors and seed analysts have benefited from the programme.