Featured - Regional - Top Stories - April 13, 2021

COMESA: Over four Million Seed Labels Developed & Ready for Use

Sakhile Phiri (Bulawayo Correspondent)

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Seed Programme through the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) has developed over four million physical seed labels that are ready for use by seed companies in the region.

In a statement, COMESA said the labels will enable companies to engage in regional seed trade for large seed consignments crossing the borders and in-country seed trade in smaller packages.
ACTESA/COMESA Seed Expert Dr John Mukuka revealed in Lusaka that the Seed Labels can be stuck on different sizes of bags including 1kg, 2kg, 5kg, 10kg, 20kg and 25kg bags within a 30 to 40 metric tonnes COMESA certified seed lot.

“The COMESA Seed Labels are meant to provide an easy passage at the border and they are now available at the COMESA Secretariat at $0.035/label in order to facilitate regional seed trade within the 21 COMESA Member States,” said Dr Mukuka in a statement.

ACTESA, a Specialised Agency of COMESA, manages the Seed Development Programme which is implemented within the guidelines of the COMESA Seed Harmonisation Implementation Plan (COMSHIP).

In line with COMSHIP, the programme has developed the COMESA Variety Catalogue, a platform that contains seed varieties which comply with requirements of having the seed registered in two COMESA Member States.

“Once a variety is on the COMESA Variety Catalogue, it does not have to be subjected to more tests and can be imported, marketed and, if necessary, produced in any of the 21 COMESA Member States,” read part of the statement.

The operations of the COMESA Variety Catalogue requires that seed companies certifies that a variety that has been registered officially in two COMESA Member States coupled with data of the variety showing the Distinction Uniformity and Stability (DUS) and Value for Cultivation or Use (VCU) / National Performance Tests (NPT).

Zimbabwe is part of the COMESA, a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers that are faced by individual states and was formed in 1994 to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA) which had existed from the earlier days of 1981.
Meanwhile, COMESA Secretariat Covid-19 taskforce met representatives from the Africa Union Centre for Disease Control (AU – CDC) last week to discuss the pandemic and how the Secretariat should plan and prepare to return to work physically.

The taskforce led by Assistant Secretary General for Programmes (ASGP) Ambassador Dr Kipyego Cheluget said the Secretariat closed physical operations and migrated to online operations in March 2020 due to the continued escalation of COVID-19 cases in Zambia and the region.

“Leading the AU CDC team was the Regional Collaborating Centre (RCC) Coordinator Dr Lul Riek who together with the Infectious Prevention Control (IPC) Focal Point Dr Ariyo Bakare briefed the Comesa team on the different measures and steps that need to be considered before the Secretariat could re-open,” read the statement.

Ambassador Kipyego welcomed the delegation to COMESA Secretariat and briefed them on the measures that have been put in place since March 2020. He informed the delegation that the Secretariat has continued to operate smoothly through the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which is prepared every month followed by the weekly timesheets which reflects approved activities and their implementation.

The secretariat has continued to follow the COVID-19 guidelines by providing masks, hand sanitizer and internet bundles for the small core staff that operate from the office. The visiting team was informed that all meetings are held virtually, and missions or travel have been put on hold until further notice.

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