On September 29, 2015, Umlimi Lokhonile Seeds (which means “the farmer is able”) from Swaziland launched MRI514, a hybrid maize seed from Syngenta MRI in Zambia, making Swaziland the first country to demonstrate practical implementation of the SADC harmonized seed system. Under the system, once a seed variety is approved in two SADC countries, it can be released in all SADC countries without extensive trials and paperwork, making investment in seed development more attractive and profitable.
USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub has been providing technical assistance to advance the SADC Harmonized Seed Regulations (HSR) by assisting the SADC Seed Centre to establish the online SADC Seed Variety Catalog and by supporting consultations among regional seed sector stakeholders to raise awareness of the HSR. The Trade Hub has also promoted national seed system alignment to the regional system and brokered partnerships in the private sector to advance seed trade transactions.
The release of MRI514 into Swaziland represents a significant milestone in regional integration and the development of seed markets. MRI514 is an early maturing, drought tolerant maize variety with a potential yield of 10 metric tons per hectare. Regional seed trade can make improved seed varieties more readily available, accessible, and affordable to farmers, especially smallholder farmers, in the region.
Photo: During the launch of MRI514 on September 29, 2015, USAID Southern Africa Deputy Mission Director Littleton Tazewell stated in his address that “Seed varieties like the one we are welcoming to Swaziland today have the ability to transform agriculture in Southern Africa and accelerate productivity throughout the region”