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MORE than 500 delegates from seed producing companies around the world are expected to gather in Victoria Falls early next month to deliberate on issues including improving production capacity and quality of seeds at a congress of the African Seed Traders Association.

The AFSTA congress will be held at the Elephant Hills hotel from March 3-5.

The chairman of the Zimbabwe Seed Traders Association, an affiliate of AFSTA Mr Walter Chigodora, said the congress will attract key players from Africa and beyond to discuss the current and future pertinent issues and trends in seed production.

“It is also a platform to accentuate the importance of the seed sector in attaining food security in Africa and how delegates can play a key role in influencing responsive policies, rules and regulations that govern the seed industry in particular, and the agricultural industry in general,” said Mr Chigodora.

So far about 300 delegates have confirmed their attendance with 280 of them being foreigners.

“There is tremendous interest in attending the congress in Zimbabwe and it was expected that the annual event would attract more than 500 delegates from all over the world,” said Mr Chigodora.

The whole agricultural chain, including agronomy issues for Africa, how to increase yield per hectare, will be discussed at the congress.

AFSTA vice president and Seed Co managing director Mr Denias Zaranyika said the role of the seed industry in facing its biggest challenge of century will also come under discussion including a report on vegetable production.

“There is a special committee that will be reporting on vegetables, researching vegetable seed with a possibility of turning the scales because Africa is importing vegetables more that it is exporting,” said Mr Zaranyika.

As Vice president, Mr Zaranyika is due to take over as president of the association at the 2016 congress to be held in Nairobi.

Other topics to be explored at the congress include using the latest technology for enhanced seed production, harmonization, implementation and seed regulations at the regional community levels and comprehensive approach for the strengthening of seed associations in Africa.

AFSTA was formally established on March, 2000, during an inaugural congress in South Africa where Kenya was elected as host country for the Secretariat.

The African Seed Trade Association arose out of a need to have a regional representative body for the seed industry, which could also serve to promote the development of private seed enterprises.

Source : The Herald

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