TOSCI Historical background
Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) is a government institute under the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) established by the Seed Act No. 18, 2003. TOSCI is responsible for the certification and promotion of quality agricultural Seeds produced or imported into the country for sale. It is also entrusted with safeguarding farming community from procuring poor quality or fake seeds from vendors of farm inputs.
TOSCI headquarters is currently located at the main campus of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro. TOSCI has four branches at Arusha, which serves for the Northern zone, Njombe serving the Southern highlands zone, Mwanza which serves the Lake and Western Zones while Mtwara serving the Southern zone.
TOSCI is a result of transformation from Tanzania Official Seed Certification Agency (TOSCA) which was established by the Seed Act 1973. The transformation of TOSCI from TOSCA was a result of government reforms initiatives to increase efficiency of public institutions. The Seeds Act of 1973 was reviewed and replaced by Seeds Act No. 18 of 2003 in order to incorporate private sector, and joining both International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) for seed testing procedures and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Seed Schemes as a requirements for facilitating international seed trade.
Tanzania joined OECD Seed Schemes in 2016 while the National Seed Testing Laboratory at Morogoro is in the process to be ISTA accredited, ISTA auditing for the accreditation process was done on the 15th December 2017. Currently, TOSCI is working on the raised issues by the auditors before the ISTA accreditation is given.
Following liberalization of trade in the country, private seed companies started to operate in seed business. In the recent years, the numbers of private seed companies involved in seed production and varieties development have increased. This trend has increased seed production and the development of more new varieties. For example in 2012/2013 and 2016/2017 cropping season, area grown with seed crops was 7,209 and 15,765 Ha (an increase of 54%) while certified seed (local and imported) was 10,230 and 43,000 MT (an increase of 76%) respectively. Therefore, an effective seed quality control and certification system need to be in place to meet the customer needs.
Like other government institutions operating through subventions, TOSCI is required to prepare and implement Medium Term Strategic Plans (MTSP) to achieve institutional goals, objectives and targets through aligning their planning and budget cycle as per Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) requirements. Therefore TOSCI Strategic Plan 2009/2010-2024/2025 has taken into consideration the recent national agriculture sector policies, strategies and programmes such as the Tanzania Development Vision 2025 (TDV 2025), Tanzania Five Year Development Plan (FYDP), Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS), Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP), KILIMO KWANZA resolve and Tanzania Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan (TAFSIP) and Big Results Now (BRN). All these frameworks advocate for both social and economic growth in the country which TOSCI is also contributing.Therefore the formulation of TOSCI Strategic Plan is important in order to identify appropriate solutions that will enable the Institute to live up to the expectations of its stakeholders.
Agriculture is the main stay of Tanzanian economy, access of quality seed is very crucial in ensuring high yields and food security for Tanzanian. However, the sector is facing myriad challenges that prevent it from moving forward. Among the challenges that impede the agricultural sector; fake and substandard agricultural inputs pose a serious stumbling block in the sectors progress; due to inadequate seed certification and quality control activities.
TOSCI has introduced a labeling system in order to control fake seeds whereby all seed packages offered for sale must be affixed with TOSCI labels that are serially numbered and have TOSCI logo and security mark, for traceability purposes. However, labelingsystem appears to be efficient only when seed inspections to the seed stockiest are effectively done. Therefore, TOSCI has made tremendous progress in improving post-harvest seed inspections throughout the country. The strategies include training more Authorized Seed Inspectors (ASIs) that will do seed inspection on behalf of TOSCI at their respective districts. Currently, there are about 200 ASIs in the country with TOSCI IDs. For example in 2016/2017 cropping season more than 1500 seed stockiest were inspected, out of that, 40 were removed from the seed business due to violation of the Seeds Act and Regulations.
In achieving sustainable control of fake seeds, TOSCI is planning to adopt sophisticated technologies such as use of coin scratch, mobile authentication and electronic seed certification (e-certification) that can be effectively used to combat fake seed in Tanzania. Coin scratch enables end consumers to verify that the product was produced by credible, certified producer/multipliers, thereby preventing package reuse and adulteration. On the other hand e-certification will enable TOSCI to effectively conduct post-harvest seed inspections as all activities of inspectors provided with android tablets will be monitored at TOSCI Headquarters. However, TOSCI is planning to enhance public awareness creation to discourage the use of fake seed and propose to the government/stakeholders amendments of the Seeds Act and Regulations in order to empower TOSCI in all issues related with seed quality control and certification.