The government has said it wouldn’t tolerate any longer unscrupulous seed dealers in the country, promising stern measures especially against those distributing fake hybrid seeds.
The warning was issued at the weekend here by Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives minister Prof Jumanne Maghembe at the official opening of a one-day meeting organised by the Tanzania Seed Traders Association (Tasta).
He said all seed dealers are required to register their companies in a bid to promote traceability in case of any fault. The Minister advised seed dealers to support the government as interested parties in fighting against dishonest traders cashing in on seed dealing.
“Severe punishment will be taken against all the culprits and seed dealers found guilty of dealing in fake cash and food crop seeds,” Prof Maghembe noted.
He further said that the growth and sophistication of fake seed grain was posing a serious food security risk to the country, which has recently made significant gains in the agricultural sector.
According to him, some dealers were taking advantage of unsuspecting farmers and selling them fake seeds, which affected the yield negatively. The Minister said agricultural productivity has been as low as 12.5 per cent as a result of fake seeds, among other factors.
Meanwhile, Prof Maghembe said that the government also was in a process of enacting a law that would facilitate liberalisation of seed production in the country.
“The new law has already been read for the first time in the just ended parliamentary meeting and I hope it will be passed in the November Parliament meeting,” noted the Minister.
Minister warned the players in the seed industry that even if the sector would be liberalised, they need to bear in mind that national food security was paramount and the farmers' yields should not be compromised.
Tasta executive director Bob Shuma commended the government for coming up with a legislation which, among others things, would facilitate the liberalisation of the seed industry.
“This will enable us, seed dealers, and producers to export…something which we have been waiting for a many years,” he explained.
Recent estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, show that annual requirements for quality seed stands at 100,000 tons. The estimates also show that over 90 per cent of the Tanzanian farmers use recycled seeds.