Nakuru - The 22 officers of the Feed the Future Southern Africa Seed Trade Project of the DAI under USAID among them officers from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi continued with their training in the Nakuru Region where the practicals were on Value for Cultivation (VCU) - National Performance Trials (NPT), Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) and Plant Variety Tests.

The two days Trainer of Trainers (ToT) practical sessions were aimed at increasing the officers’ knowledge and skills on VCU, (NPT), and Stability (DUS) tests as well as plant variety protection.
This was part of a weeklong training that was conducted by KEPHIS officials through the sponsorship of the USAID FOODSCAP Project. The training covered various NPT technical operations aspects of variety tests ranging from land preparation to harvest of different maize varieties where the officials conducted measurements on aspects of spacing, number of rows per plot, length of rows, planting depth and sowing rate. This was conducted by each officer taking part in digging and planting of maize.

Additionally, NPT (VCU) tests on mature maize crops of different varieties from different breeders were conducted where the trainees observed and collected data for different maize varieties scoring data on aspects of plant height up to flag leaf, ear height from ground to point of insertion of uppermost maize ear, root lodge count, stalk lodge, maturity date, disease score among other descriptors.
Also, DUS tests were carried out on different grain amaranth varieties to identify appropriate characteristics for the production of harmonized variety descriptors. Various grouping characteristics such as anthocyanin coloration of amaranth cotyledon, seedling and petiole among others were observed and collected data scored. Moreover, the officers learnt of the pre- and post-control samples where imported seeds are tested before they are released into the market. Also, they were taken through seed testing procedures and standards in the KEPHIS ISTA accredited seed testing laboratory where seed purity, germination, tetrazonium, seed vigour tests are conducted.
Speaking while taking officers through different laboratory departments, Mr. Wilson Sitienei, a KEPHIS Nakuru Seed Inspector stated that seed testing is part of seed certification process and it ensures that the seed that reaches the farmer is of high physical and genetic purity, high viability and is free from deleterious seed borne diseases and noxious weeds.

The Feed the Future Southern Africa Seed Trade Project comes following its need to increase the availability of high-quality seed of improved varieties to farmers in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to improve yields and increase food security and nutrition. It provides diverse assistance to implement the SADC Harmonized Seed Regulations (HSR) to foster seed trade across the region and integrate smaller and isolated national seed markets into a larger, more efficient SADC-wide seed market.

Members of the Feed the Future Southern Africa Seed Trade Project at KEPHIS Nakuru during a practical training on Value for Cultivation and use (VCU) - (NPT) and Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability Tests.

Top and above: Post control tests of imported seed samples ensures seeds are tested before release to the market.

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