The Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) is a government department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL). The SCCI is Zambia’s seed certification Authority and is a centre for seed services in the country. This is achieved through the enforcement of the Plant Variety and Seeds Act (CAP 236) of the laws of Zambia. The Act provides for regulation and control through variety testing and release; production and marketing of seed; import and export of seed; seed quality control, and; coordination of the seed industry.
The institute is also Registrar of Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) and enforces the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act (No. 18 of 2007). The PBR is a form of plant variety protection that ensures that the breeder authorises the use of his/her variety. The PBR also enables the plant breeder to collect royalties from users of his/her variety.
View the SCCI Official Website for more information
Some key programmes at SCCI include the following:
Variety Testing and Release
Prior to commercialisation of a crop variety in Zambia, it is tested for distinctness, uniformity and stability (DUS) and for value for cultivation and use (VCU). The tests attempts to confirm variety identity and performance. These tests are carried out by SCCI and aim at protecting farmers from using insufficiently tested new crop varieties that the breeder may attempt to release for professional expediency. The Institute uses International Union for Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) guidelines on plant variety testing.
The test for DUS is also used to protect the breeder from misuse of his/her variety by others. The decision to release a variety is a responsibility of a broad based Variety Release Committee of representatives of key stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Upon release, the variety may be multiplied and marketed in the country.
Inspection for the production of quality seeds
Seed multiplication is the processing of increasing the quantity of seed of a variety without changing its genetics. This is done in accordance with CAP 236. Seed is produced by seed growers who are registered with SCCI which is responsible for inspecting the production of seed at various crop growth stages to ensure adherence to standards for the resultant seed to be certified. The process is based on Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Seed Testing and Certification
Seed Testing is carried out to establish the physiological and physical status of seed. Seed is tested for germination, purity, moisture content and weed number
determination prior to certification. For a seed lot to be certified it must be of a released variety and its multiplication found to be successfully done. The seed lot must also meet the minimum standards of the laboratory quality tests.
Zambia’s main seed testing laboratory in Chilanga is an international seed analysis laboratory and is accredited to the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). This enables the laboratory to issue international seed analysis certificates and facilitate international seed trade.
Plant variety protection
The enactment of the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act in Zambia will promote variety development and contribute to increasing agricultural production. The development will give confidence to plant breeders to release their seed varieties in Zambia without fear of their varieties being stolen. The development will in general promote the development and introduction of superior varieties in Zambia which will benefit the general farming community as their farm returns are expected to increase. It is envisaged that PVP will bring about more investment in the local seed industry. The institute uses International Union for Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) guidelines on conducting DUS and granting of Plant Breeder’sRights.
Molecular variety assessment
The SCCI recently established a biotechnology laboratory at its Headquarters in Chilanga. The laboratory genetically “finger-prints” seed in order to establish the identity of varieties at molecular level. This information is also useful for establishing variety purity of seed lots on the seed market.
During the 1930s and early 40s, Zambia, then Northern Rhodesia had no resident seed Quality standards. Much of the seed for distribution across the provinces was from the central breeding station in then Salisbury now Harare in Zimbabwe and some from Kenya. Due to heavy recruitments to armed forces during the Second World War, Zambia was not very productive and became an importer of maize form Belgian Congo, now Congo and the Union of South Africa now South Africa.
In the mid-1950s seed services become operational in now Zambia after the establishment of the Mount Makalu Central Research Station now Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) as an activity, then a section after the completion of its first modern seed testing laboratory in December 1968 and in early 1969 after the enactment of the first post-independence Seeds Act. In August 1979, with the help of SIDA, the formation of Zamseed was formulated and was later established in 1981 to handle seed production and marketing. In 1983 the seed services was renamed Seed Control and Certification Institute to manage the national seed certification scheme adopted from the OECD.In 1985,SCCI became a department under the now Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock .