The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the National Seed Association of Rwanda (NSAR), and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) on Wednesday, October 25, launched a roadmap to strengthen partnerships in getting rid of poor-quality seeds by 2030. ALSO READ: Agric ministry rolls out plan to eliminate fake seeds by 2030 Below are 10 things to know about the seven-year strategy to improve the seed industry. 1. Creation of the National Seed Certification Agency The establishment of a rigorous quality assurance and certification system is vital to guaranteeing seed quality. The roadmap advocates for the creation of a National Seed Certification Agency to set standards, monitor seed quality and enforce compliance. This will instil confidence in farmers and incentivise investment in seed production. 2. Vegetable seed production centre in Rwanda A detailed study was made to determine the feasibility of vegetable seeds in Rwanda. It showed that the climate is excellent for the production of tomato, pepper, eggplant, watermelon and others. The strategy advocates for establishing a vegetable seed production centre in Rwanda as sufficient infrastructure to produce vegetable seeds is currently a challenge. 3. Combating fake/counterfeit seed As in all African countries, fake and counterfeit seed is a concern. It is noted that there are several sources of counterfeit seed in the market namely imported fake seed, imported seed produced from stolen genetics, local-produced fake seed and seed produced from parent seed that does not conform to genetic purity standards. Enforcement of the current regulations and laws is a challenge. Even though RICA is a strong enforcer of rules, it has become evident that additional resource capacity is needed. 4. Infrastructure development Addressing the challenges in seed production requires upgrading and expanding seed processing facilities, storage warehouses, and distribution networks. Strategic partnerships between the government and private sector will be fostered to build modern infrastructure and improve access to quality seeds in remote areas. 5. Training and capacity-building Efforts to strengthen the seed industry will be complemented by comprehensive training and capacity-building programmes for farmers, extension workers, and industry stakeholders. Knowledge dissemination on modern agricultural practices, seed handling, and storage techniques will be promoted to enhance productivity and sustainability. ALSO READ: Farmers seek compensation for ‘fake’ watermelon seeds 6. Protecting intellectual property rights To foster a conducive environment for the seed industry’s growth, the roadmap emphasises the need for policy and regulatory reforms. Streamlining seed registration processes, protecting intellectual property rights, and facilitating private sector participation will be prioritised to attract investment and spur innovation. 7. Public-private partnerships Promoting public-private partnerships will be a cornerstone of the roadmap. Collaboration between the government, private seed companies, research institutions, and non-governmental organisations will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources to drive industry advancements. 8. Climate change-resistant varieties The road map will ensure sufficient testing of new varieties is done to ready farmers for changes brought by climate change. Infrastructure investment is required to lessen climate change risk. Rwanda has no breeding facilities for private seed companies and because the local market is small, any company that uses Rwanda as a breeding station must develop products for the regional market. This in itself is an interesting opportunity to watch and pursue. 9. New investments needed To drive innovation and adaptation of seeds to local agro-climatic conditions, the roadmap proposes increased investment in agricultural research. Collaborations between public research institutions, private companies, and international partners will be encouraged to develop new seed varieties with improved traits such as drought tolerance, disease resistance, and increased yields. New technology, new varieties, and advanced agricultural production techniques are critical for the sector’s future development. 10. ISTA accreditation The majority of neighbouring countries require an International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) certificate to import seeds. Rwanda is currently unable to meet this requirement and is thus excluded from entering those markets. ISTA quality results will assure the government, financial institutions, sector exporters, and the industry that Rwandan farmers are receiving high-germinating seed. ISTA certification will open doors for the industry to further development and trade opportunities. The private sector must be an active contributor and supporter to the government to obtain ISTA accreditation.