Public-Private-Producers Partnership for Strengthening Seed Certification in Afghanistan: Project Inception Workshop
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War, drought and social collapse have greatly undermined the agricultural production systems in Afghanistan. Reconstruction or development is needed to create a stronger commercial agricultural sector, including seed. The success story of Green Revolution in Asia identified Seed as the driving force for agricultural production and sustainability. Therefore, quality seed production, certification and availability to resource poor farmers are of utmost importance for agricultural development in Afghanistan. Last five decades has been an era of ups and downs in agriculture sector of Afghanistan in general and seed sector in particular. But the last one-decade showed significant improvement in both the sectors. However, there are still significant constraints to be addressed for further development and sustainability of seed sector in Afghanistan. Seed certification has been identified as the immediate concern to be addressed in the country. This will not only help in enhancing the agricultural production and productivity but will build private seed sector in Afghanistan. Till now the seed chain in the country is dominated by informal system, which lack seed certification awareness, capable man-power and knowledge gaps between public, private and producers and non-operational seed testing laboratories. Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has identified seed certification as a critical area, which may contribute to agricultural sustainability and strengthening value chain markets in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Seed Act of 2009 entitles MAIL to establish a competent seed certification agency responsible for ensuring seed quality. It is envisaged that an adequately equipped, staffed and funded quality control agency shall be established, and all seed in the formal sector offered for sale shall be subject to certification and quality check. It is time now to separate seed production and quality assurance through the establishment of a seed certification agency. The Afghanistan National Seed Board under the Chairmanship of Deputy Minister (Technical), MAIL is responsible for seed production, certification, sale, purchase and distribution. Overall it handles the formal seed chain, advises on policy formulation and implementation. Directorate of Seed Certification works as secretariat of National Seed Board and handles seed certification related activities including field inspection, seed sampling, seed testing, control plots etc... Private sector mostly works under one umbrella namely Afghanistan National Seed Organization (ANSOR). In 2015, ANSOR membership reached to over 120 Private Seed Enterprises (PSEs) operating across 28 provinces and the volume of wheat seed trade reached nearly 30,000 tons in 2012. However, both the sectors are working in isolation.