WINDHOEK – Once the Seed and Seed Varieties Bill is enacted into law any person who contravenes or fails to comply with the registration requirements as a seed producer, processor, and the furnishing of periodic returns to the registrar, is liable to a fine of N$10 000.
Those in breach of this law could be jailed for up to 12 months or could be jailed and fined at the same time.
Currently, there is no requirement for registration before one can be a dealer for seed in Namibia.
Due to this, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Alpheus !Naruseb said there is considerable risk that low-quality seeds may be sold to unsuspecting farmers, resulting in a market failure to the detriment of genuine dealers and production in general.
!Naruseb explained in the National Assembly that once the Seed and Seed Varieties Bill has been passed into law, it will stipulate that all seed producers and seed processing units be registered in order to ensure seed quality and provide consumer protection with regard to seed purity, genetic integrity and freedom from diseases, producers and processors.
No seed of any kind or variety not gazzetted may for the purpose of cultivation, sowing or planting by any person be sold unless the seed is of a variety specified in the register.
“Once this Bill is enacted no person may sell, keep for sale, offer to sell, barter, import or export or otherwise supply any seed by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf unless he or she is registered as a seed dealer,” he stated.
Equally, he said once passed, no person may cultivate, produce or organise the cultivation or production of seed unless registered as seed producer; and no person may operate a seed processing unit unless such unit is registered.
He explained that no person may import into Namibia any seed unless it is of a variety of which the denomination is entered in the register; or it complies with the prescribed requirements.
No person may export from Namibia any seed unless he or she is in possession of the certificate from the registrar authorising such export.
These provisions will complement other laws on bio-safety and phytosanitary regulations in order to ensure consumer protection and safeguard sustainability of the national production base through appropriate consideration for bio-technology and plant health risks.
The Bill will provide for the appointment of the Registrar of Seed and Seed Varieties, registration of producers, processors and dealers of seed and for control over imports and exports of seed.
Further, he explained the Bill further provides for the establishment of the Namibian Seed Council and the Seed Varieties Committee and their powers and functions.
The Bill also seeks to provide that the Registrar of Seed and Seed Varieties will be responsible for registration of seed and seed varieties, keeping and maintaining the register.
According to !Naruseb, the registrar must, subject to any overall policy directives or instructions given by the minister, the council or the Seed Varieties Committee exercise the powers, perform the functions and carry out the duties conferred upon, assigned to or imposed upon the registrar by the Act.
He said the registrar must grant a certificate to those registered and every person registered must furnish periodic returns to the registrar.
The registrar will have the right to suspend or cancel any registration that fails to comply with the requirements.
The registrar must register an applicant as a seed dealer if he or she meets the prescribed requirements relating to infrastructure, equipment and technical ability and knowledge.
Such arrangement will ensure that only seeds from dealers meeting the requirements are permitted to sell seed thereby ensuring that only certified seeds are distributed and or sold to farmers.
Moreover, he indicated no person may conduct or carry on the business of a horticulture nursery, unless such nursery is registered with the registrar.