The production of quality seed features is a key factor in any policy to achieve food and nutrition security, which is among the primary goals of the government of Eritrea. In order to promote the achievement of national food security, the State of Eritrea issued a Seed Policy document in 2002, which provided effective strategic direction to develop the formal seed sector in Eritrea. For example, many cereal and vegetable crops were developed and distributed to farmers through extension services, greatly enhancing production and productivity of crops. Seed distribution services have been considerably strengthened to create demand by farmers for improved varieties. Seed quality assurances is much more improved under the chairmanship of the Regulatory Services Department (RSD) and the National Variety Release Committee of the MoA through rigorous seed inspection and control activities. Nonetheless, still many challenges remain.
According to Mr. Tekleab Misghina, Director General of RSD, the Seed Policy document was issued in 2002. Over the past 20 years, a lot of changes which necessitated the review of the policy document happened, he added. For instance, he continued, new entities such as the Regulatory Services Department of the MoA and the Hamelmalo Agriculture College (HAC) came into being. These changes brought new experiences and knowledge to the formal seed sector. The National Variety Release Committee, whose establishment envisaged in the Seed Policy document of 2002, was operational for about 10 years now, with lots of experiences accumulated so far. Mr. Tekleab went on to say considerable progress have been made in crop research to develop new varieties and distribute them to farmers via the extension system which further strengthened the formal seed sector. These developments, among others, have brought in new experiences and dimensions to the formal seed sector in Eritrea.
With regards to the review process, the MoA established a technical committee, drawn from its technical departments, namely; the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), the Agricultural Extension Department (AED) and the Regulatory Services Department RSD) – serving as the coordinator for the review process. The committee made an in-depth analyses of the experiences gained thus far and future trends of the seed sector. The benchmark in reviewing the seed policy document is its contribution to the achievement of national food and nutrition security, which, as indicated above, remains among the main goals of the government of Eritrea.
Mr. Tekleab indicated that the technical committee finally produced a revised seed policy document for consideration by the MoA, which then organized a consultative workshop on February 16, 2023, with the aim to gather information to enrich the revised seed policy document.
During the workshop, around 40 participants comprising H.E. Minister Arefaine Berhe, senior officials from the MoA, HAC and Zobas, over 40 participants took part.
“The workshop was highly participatory, where many views and comments were expressed to further improve the draft document. As the time was too short to accommodate all comments during the workshop, some days were given for participants to reflect their views in writing after going to their respective places.” Mr. Tekleab concluded.