Remarks by USAID Director Sheryl Stumbras During the Cold Storage Facility Handover to the Seed Control and Certification Institute

Remarks by USAID Director Sheryl Stumbras
Cold Storage Facility Handover to the Seed Control and Certification Institute
Chilanga, Lusaka, Zambia
September 9, 2019

(as prepared for delivery)

Minister of Agriculture Honorable Zondani Katambo
Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) Director Mable Simwanza
SADC FANR Director Domingos Gove
Seed Co Limited Managing Director Grace Bwanali
Feed the Future Southern Africa Seed Trade Project Chief of Party Itai Makanda
Friends in the media
Ladies and gentlemen

This has been a busy day, and I am happy to report that it has been busy for all good reasons. This morning, the U.S. and Zambian governments jointly commissioned the first hybrid maize seed export out of Zambia to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was an historic milestone for the agriculture sector in the SADC region, opening up the trade of improved seed varieties across borders and offering another layer of protection from food insecurity and famine.

I am very pleased to be with you all this afternoon and continue the good news. But in order to do that, I’ll need to begin with a not-so-good memory.

In 2015, fire destroyed the seed testing sample storage facility here at the Zambian Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI).  This left the institute’s International Seed Testing Association (ISTA)-accredited laboratory with nowhere to store reference seed samples.

When we were approached by the Zambian government, through the SCCI, to help rebuild the seed store, I am honored to say the United States government did not hesitate.  We are committed to supporting the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and understand the importance of seed storage, testing and accreditation for further economic development and trade throughout the region.

As a show of our commitment, the United States Agency for International Development, through its Feed the Future Southern Africa Seed Trade Project (Seed Trade Project), provided funding to the SCCI to install a cold storage facility. The in-kind grant also expanded the SCCI’s reference seed samples and cold storage capacity – the facility is now home to 5,000 reference seed samples.

As further testament to the importance of this facility, this past April, ISTA audited Zambia’s SCCI Seed Testing Laboratory. The preliminary findings of the audit affirmed the laboratory’s competence to continue testing and issuing ISTA international seed lot certificates, which will facilitate international seed trade in the SADC and COMESA regions and beyond. That is a milestone deserving recognition and commendation.

Today, on behalf of the United States government, it is my honor to officially hand over the rebuilt cold storage facility to the Zambian government. The cold storage facility is a critical piece of infrastructure in the seed certification process, and meets internationally agreed-upon standards, especially those laid out by ISTA and the SADC Harmonised Seed Regulatory Systems (HSRS).

Further, the Feed the Future Seed Trade Project relies on the SCCI for capacity building of other National Seed Authorities in SADC and across the African continent.

I’d like to commend my USAID colleagues, particularly Dr. Takele Tassew and the Seed Trade Project (which is in year four of five), for working tirelessly to accomplish both the hybrid maize seed export and completing this cold storage facility.

The Seed Trade Project will continue working hard to increase the availability of high-quality seed varieties to farmers, contribute to increased agricultural productivity and improved food and nutrition security, and boost seed trade across the region, integrating smaller and more isolated national seed markets into one larger SADC market. Zambia has become a major seed exporter in the SADC region, and we hope our support enhances Zambia’s leadership in this space.

The United States government will continue to partner with the Zambian Government and the SADC Secretariat as you work towards the full implementation and domestication of the SADC HSRS among member states. Further, the United States government is committed to economic development and food security in the SADC region, and Zambia’s leadership in seed export and trade, as well as capacity building to other nations, is important for continued growth in the agriculture sector. Ensuring critical infrastructure, such as this cold storage facility, are in place and maintained lays a strong foundation for the whole system to work smoothly.

Ladies and gentlemen, as I close, I’d like to thank you for being here on this joyful occasion to celebrate an important milestone. I am convinced this facility will enhance the SCCI’s leadership and its ability to contribute to Zambia’s seed certification and training services. Thank you. Zikomo Kwambiri!

Honorable Minister Katambo and SCCI Director, Madam Mable Simwanza, if you would, please join me to cut the ribbon and officially hand over the cold storage facility into your very capable hands.