The National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) has signed cooperation agreements with ten seed companies through which it will multiply and disseminate authentic and certified seed varieties developed by the organization.
The agreements were signed on Thursday at the organization offices in Entebbe. The accredited seed companies included CenturySeeds Ltd, GOLDEN BUZZ (U) Ltd, Premier Seeds Ltd, Okeba (U) Ltd, Savanah Seeds Ltd, Rhino Seeds Africa Ltd, Green Farm Africa, Supa Seeds Africa Ltd, Golden Bull (U) Ltd and BRAC Social Business Enterprise (U) Ltd.
According to NARO, the signing of the agreements was a step in ensuring farmers got the right and genuine seeds, a development that would contribute to improved food production not only for the country’s food security but also for export.
Dr. Sylvester Dickson Baguma, NARO’s Intellectual Property Management Committee (IPMC) chairman said it was also part of the effort to commercialize research outcomes, a move that would help earn NARO a stipend from its work and also make research, a key component of NARO’s agenda a sustainable one. The organization’s intellectual property arm, NARO Holdings Limited is key in this area.
The companies that signed cooperation agreements add to the list of thirteen that had already signed similar agreements, making a total of twenty-three companies.
NARO Director General Dr. Yona Baguma said the partnership with the seed companies was a response to a public outcry, to which they would have to answer with adequate provision of quality seeds. He said the previous season had seen the country-wide need for quality seeds that could not be accessed by farmers. He said it was not uncommon to find a farmer with money but unable to get the seeds.
Under the agreements signed, the seed companies will acquire total or partial exclusive rights to multiply and produce the availed improved varieties, which shall be certified by NARO and branded with the seed companies’ logos to ensure quality on the market.
Baguma said that it will be the duty of the seed companies to ensure fake inputs do not make it to the market with the companies’ logo or else it will be the companies to explain the malpractice.
“It is you to ensure that a seed supplied in your name and logo is of good quality. Where you fail, you owe us a duty of explanation,” Baguma said.
He urged the companies to invest in technologies and infrastructure that improve their work and also invest in the development of human resources for the job. He also called for compliance with industry guidelines set up by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
Baguma disclosed that several new improved varieties were awaiting certification and advertising before the seed companies could apply for them. Some, he explained had taken between three to ten years to develop.
He asked the companies to exploit the East African Community common market to broaden their market and also earn the country foreign exchange by expanding the export base.
N.S.R. Swamy of Golden Buzz, one of the seed companies commended NARO for allowing them to participate in the noble calling of seed development and distribution.
Emmanuel Mubangizi of Century Seeds made a call to the government to provide affordable credit to the companies. He said credit from commercial banks was too expensive for them to use to acquire modern seed driers, sorters, and cleaners.
He also asked the NARO to scrutinize the seed companies to train their manpower and certify their capacity for the job. Some, he said were calling themselves seed companies when they could not operate at that level.