Seed Certification Procedure
Page 1 of 2KEPHIS' activities and services involve offering inspectorate services on all matters related to plant health and quality control of agricultural inputs and produce.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) is a State Corporation established in October 1996. The Corporation's activities and services involve offering inspectorate services on all matters related to plant health and quality control of agricultural inputs and produce. The activities include:
THE PROCEDURES FOR SEED CERTIFICATION
- Certification of the quality of seeds and fertilizers.
- Testing and monitoring the presence of harmful residual agro-chemicals on agricultural produce, soils and water systems.
- Co-ordination of the release of superior and well-adapted varieties/cultivars to the farming community.
- Protecting the rights of the breeders/discoverers of new plant varieties through grant of rights to the owners of such varieties and registering them.
- Preventing introduction into the country of harmful foreign weeds, pests and diseases through adherence to strict quarantine regulations and procedures.
- Inspecting and grading agricultural produce for import and export to ensure that they are of high and acceptable quality.
- Implementing the national policy on the introduction and use of genetically modified plant species, insects and microorganisms in Kenya.
The above activities of KEPHIS are undertaken at four regional offices based at its Headquarters in Nairobi, and Regional Offices at Mombasa, Nakuru and Kitale. Seed certification as stipulated in the Seeds and Plant Varieties Act (Chapter 326) of the Laws of Kenya ensures that only high quality seed of crop varieties are available for use by the farmers. The process of certification involves the following activities:
- Field inspection
This is the first step in seed certification. Before field inspection commences the seed merchants must:
- Register their fields for inspection
- Provide proof of origin of the parental materials of the varieties registered for inspection. If a new variety, this must also include the descriptors of the parental materials.
- Minimum isolation distance must be observed. Timely inspection in the fields is conducted to ensure that seed resulting from a crop meant for seed purpose is of the designated variety (trueness to type) and has not been contaminated genetically or physically (varietal purity) beyond certain specific limits. The crop must be healthy and free from diseases (especially seed borne).
- Seed Processing
Seed crops of approved fields are harvested and processed to remove undesirable contaminants such as weed seeds, inert material, immature seeds, broken and diseased seeds. The seeds are also graded into different sizes and treated with protective chemicals.
- Seed Testing
Laboratory seed testing is useful in determining quality factors such as purity, germination capacity, moisture content and health status (seed-borne diseases) of seed lots.
- Labelling and Sealing
Upon satisfactory fulfilment of the prescribed requirement, every seed lot is provided with a label and a seal. Containers are labelled and sealed in such a way the seed cannot be removed or changed without damaging beyond repair, either the container, the label or the sealing device.
- Post Control
These are tests designed to ascertain whether or not the preceding control measures have been effective. The tests ensure that the characteristics of cultivars/varieties have remained unchanged in the process of multiplication. Under special circumstances, pre-control tests are necessary to determine satisfactory fulfilment of doubted factors.
- Post Certification Survey
To ensure that all is well with the certified seed till planting time, a post certification survey is conducted at the time of planting throughout the country, by the four regional offices of KEPHIS. Samples are taken from seed stockists, farmers planting and at market places. These samples are planted alongside the post control plots and comparisons made. When complaints of low quality seed arise, such claims are easily verified.
All appointed and licensed stockists/sellers must therefore ensure that they only offer for sale certified seed or seed meeting the minimum standards outlined in Cap 326. (All seeds sellers must be registered by KEPHIS).