Seed Control and Certification Institute(SCCI)
The Seed Control and Certification Institute is a government institution whose responsibility is to ensure that seeds and varieties that are supplied to the farming public are of high quality. Such efforts are aimed at contributing to increased agricultural production in Zambia. The institution is regulated by the Plant Varieties and Seeds Act 326 of the laws of Zambia (1997). The institute is a centre of excellence for all seed services in Zambia.
The SCCI enforces the Plant Varieties and Seeds Act (CAP 236) of the laws of Zambia and its statutory instruments. The Act provides for regulation and control of seed production, sale, import and export of seed for sowing and to provide for testing for germination and purity and seed certification.
The SCCI enforces the Plant Breeders Rights Act (No. 18 of 2007) of the laws of Zambia. The Act provides for protection of plant breeders rights and registration of plant varieties to safe guard and streamline matters of plant variety ownership and use.
SCCI’s mission is to contribute to agricultural production through ensuring that all farmers have access to quality seed.
The overall objective of the SCCI is to contribute towards attainment of food security at household, regional and national levels by assuring annual production of adequate supplies of basic food through the provision of quality seeds.
Structural Organisation and Functions
The SCCI is headed by a Director and comprises the following three Sections each headed by a Chief Seeds Officer:-
- Variety testing and registration Section
- Official seed inspectorate Section
- Official seed testing Section
1. Variety Testing and Registration Section
The Section carries out variety testing activities in order to protect farmers from being supplied with inferior types of seed varieties. The main functions of the section include:
- Testing the merits and demerits of candidate varieties for release in Zambia;
- Assessing candidate varieties for distinctness, uniformity and stability and value for cultivation and use;
- Undertaking variety adaptation trials across the three agro-ecological zones;
- Being a Secretariat of the National Variety Release Committee and keeping records of seed varieties released in the country; and
- Regulating registration, and protection of certain plant varieties, recognition of breeders, farmers and communities for their useful role in discovering varieties.
- The SCCI also regulates and controls introduction of GMO seed varieties into Zambia in order to avoid the country losing its natural germplasm and contamination of existing seed varieties.
2. Official Seed Inspectorate Section
The Section is responsible for carrying out seed systems development so as to strengthen the delivery of seeds to farmers. The main functions of the Section include the following:-
- Identifying gaps and formulating strategies to enhance seed delivery to the farmers;
- Developing a cottage (rural) seed industry in collaboration with various GRZ seed projects;
- Conducting Seed training for all stakeholders in the seed industry in order to enhance effective delivery of seed services to the farming community;
- Regulating the production of seeds and registering seed growers;
- Inspecting seed crops during seed production to ensure that minimum field certification standards are met; and
- Monitoring international seed trade to ensure that the production and supply of seeds is in accordance with set standards.
3. Official Seed Testing Section
The Seed Testing Section is responsible for testing seed quality attributes which are of immediate concern to the farmer. The seed testing lots include the following:
- Purity - to determine constituents of a seed lot in order to ensure that seed provided to farmers is purely of specific species;
- Moisture – to determine moisture levels in seeds and assure seed viability in storage;
- Weed count – to determine the content of weeds in seed lots in order to avoid the spread of noxious weeds through seed provision;
- Germination capacity – to determine the planting value of seeds in order to assure farmers of crop establishment after plating seed from a respective seed lot; and
- Other tests such as vigour, viability, defect, seed weight, seed lot uniformity, seed health, verification of species and cultivar are also conducted to provide more information about the quality status of seeds.
Only seed lots that meet both field and laboratory minimum standards are certified for both local and export markets in accordance with rules of the International Seed Testing Association to which the SCCI main laboratory is accredited.
The SCCI supports seed industry development in Zambia through promotion of local level seed entrepreneurship development in order to enhance seed availability at rural house hold level. The department further supports capacity building of all seeds personnel drawn from public and private institutions including farmers. SCCI provides policy guidance to Government on all matters concerning seeds in Zambia and beyond.
SCCI is the seed certification authority in the country and is accredited to the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). This accreditation entails that test procedures applied conform to international recognition. The institute uses International Union for Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) guidelines on plant variety testing, registration and granting of Plant Breeders Rights. There are plans for SCCI to seek membership to UPOV under the 1991 convention.
The seed certification scheme is based on Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to which SCCI is seeking membership. Certification procedures are therefore internationally recognized facilitating seed exports from Zambia.