NSP - Seed Rules and Regulatory Frameworks


Appropriate seed legislation at the national and regional levels are essential to create an enabling environment for the development of the seed sector. FAO provides assistance to its Member States in seed policy and legislation development.


A seed strategy establishes short, medium and long term objectives for the development of the seed sector and prescribes strategies to reach them. It is a shared vision of the seed sector and of intentions of all stakeholders regarding the desired structure, role and development of the seed sector. It therefore requires to be developed through a participatory process, involving all possible stakeholders. It states how the following means can be best used to develop the seed sector: seed quality assurance schemes including seed quality control and variety release procedures, legislation, extension services, manpower development, credit and subsidies, taxation, international cooperation. The development of national and regional seed sector needs strategic planning by which policy statements provide the vision and better define the role of key stakeholders and activities.


The development of national seed strategies may create the need to revise the seed legislation so that it can facilitate the development and eventual growth of the seed industry. A variety of domains can be tackled in seed legislation: seed certification, variety release, plant property rights, biosafety, seed production, seed marketing, packaging, labelling, institutional arrangement, and others.


FAO assists a number of countries in the development of seed strategies and legislation through technical expertise, capacity building and facilitation of the policy formulation and negotiation process.


The harmonization of seed laws and legislations is presently one of the major FAO actions related to seed. Harmonizing seed laws in the sub-regions of Africa and in Central Asia to facilitate cross-border movement of seeds and provide a broader market for seed enterprises is now recognized as vital for the development of the seed sector. By facilitating cross-border seed trade, the harmonization of seed regulations also allows countries with seed deficit to more easily find seed in neighbouring countries, and therefore contributes to seed security.


With the support of FAO, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have undertaken the harmonization of national seed regulatory frameworks in their respective Member States. Through a participatory process involving the key stakeholders in the countries, a legal framework for the harmonization of seed legislation is developed and subsequently adopted by these regional bodies. In the Central Asian region, FAO is providing support to the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in order to introduce public and private seed sector stakeholders to initiate a process of regional consultation to harmonize trade-impeding seed regulations.