Problem: National governments want to ensure that farmers are receiving high quality seed from the formal and intermediate sectors, yet often do not 1) have proper regulations in place, and/or 2) do not implement or assure implementation of their existing regulations well, resulting in low quality seed for farmers.
Vision of a healthy system: Farmers have confidence that formal and intermediate sector seed in the market meets labelled quality standards, and actively patronize the brands with the highest quality seed of the varieties they want to plant. Seed companies work to exceed quality standards, and view the regulator as their partner in this quest.
Effective government/regulatory Quality Assurance will incorporate the following:
- Collaborative design and oversight of effective and affordable processes that are fit-for-purpose, including authorizing and auditing third-party inspectors, to ensure that seed producers and merchants are supplying their customers with seed that meets best practice standards for seed quality and phytosanitary testing
- Proactive focus on engaging seed producers and merchants in a continuous cycle of seed quality improvement through training, coaching, process oversight and improvements, and timely feedback on quality and phytosanitary testing results
- Presence of functional, two-way dialogue and feedback mechanisms related to farmers’ experience of seed quality (including feedback on counterfeit seed) to support ongoing improvement in the quality of seed planted by farmers
Basis of comparison: Best practice standards for seed quality and phytosanitary testing (ISTA, OECD where applicable), plus best practice standards for a customer-focused sector
Assessment goals: To 1) create awareness of Quality Assurance deficiencies and opportunities for improvement including increased sustainability, and 2) build positive, “can-do” consensus on near-term pathways to improvement, recognizing and building upon relevant efforts already underway.
Overview of Approach
7 proposed Strategic Objectives
28 proposed Assessment Indicators
|Strategic Objective||Description||System Indicators|
|A. QA regulations that are consistent with best practices||How consistent are government QA regulations and standards with relevant international best practices?||1. Are regulations that conform to best practices in place for government quality assurance of locally produced seed?|
2. Are regulations that conform to best practices in place for government quality assurance of imported seed?
|B. Implementation of production-related QA activities for locally produced seed||How well does government implement based on their own records, and on user assessment?||Is there good implementation of government quality assurance for locally produced seed for:|
3. registration activities;
4. parent material traceability;
5. field inspection activities:
6. warehouse and plant inspection activities;
7. sampling activities:
8. lab testing activities;
9. post-harvest grow-out activities; and
10. label manufacturing, distribution and control?
|C. Implementation of national QA requirements for imported seed||How well does government implement based on their own records, and on user assessment?||Is there good implementation of government quality assurance activities for imported seed for:|
11. variety registration validity requirements;
12. lab testing activities;
13. warehouse and plant inspection activities; and
14. post-control plot activities; and
15. label manufacturing, distribution and control?
|D. Implementation of point of sale / distribution QA activities (for both locally produced and imported seed)||How well does government implement based on their own records, and on user assessment?||16. Is there good implementation of government quality assurance sampling and testing of commercial seed at distribution and sale points?|
17. Is there good implementation of government quality assurance activities for storage, carryover and retesting of commercial seed at distribution and sale points?
18. Is there good implementation of government quality assurance activities for disposing of obsolete and/or low quality seed?
19. Are there sufficient efforts by the government to combat the sale of counterfeit and low quality commercial seed to farmers?
|E. Efficiency and affordability of QA compliance for seed producers and importers||Assessment of efficiency and affordability of QA activities from perspective of users, with cost triangulated with data from outside country||20. Are certification costs to producers and importers of commercial seed affordable and reasonable?|
21. Is government quality assurance-related communication with commercial seed producers and importers timely, cost-effective, and efficient?
22. Are opportunity costs related to seed production and importation that are caused by government quality assurance delays significant and recurrent?
|F. Service focus: QA dialogue, support, training and feedback||Presence of regular and constructive dialogue, coaching, support and training between government QA entities and their various stakeholders||23. Is there regular, open, two-way dialogue between government and commercial seed producers, importers and sellers, to discuss how government quality assurance efforts can be improved?|
24. Is there regular, open, two-way dialogue between government and both large and small farmers to discuss how commercial seed quality can be improved?
25. Is there government support for, and implementation of, activities leading to a continuous cycle of quality improvement by local seed producers, importers, and sellers?
|G. Institutional support for QA||Sufficient institutional support to ensure ongoing, efficient, affordable and scientifically valid QA operations are carried out||26. Is there sufficient ongoing funding from government budget allocations and QA service fees to ensure good and reliable QA service levels?|
27. Is there sufficient and strong technical collaboration between relevant government entities (i.e. those responsible for phytosanitary and seed quality assurance) to ensure good and reliable QA service levels?
28. Does independent scientific decision-making by qualified staff drive QA decisions?
Description of Methodology
Three key categories of seed stakeholders are:
- Government regulators, including both seed quality and phytosanitary managers at HQ and field offices
- Users/subjects of QA activities, to include local seed producers, seed importers, points of sale/distribution, and their relevant associations
- Representatives of farmer organizations
Method of conducting the assessment (See diagram below):
- Desk research and preparation of summary of current understanding of national QA system: Extensive review of existing QA studies, available public QA documents, QA grants in process, etc. Only recent material will be considered highly relevant.
- Confirmation with national Team Lead of answer to the two QA gateway questions
- Provision of outline to Ministry and Head(s) of Certification and Phytosanitary to orient them to the areas to be assessed after government ‘buy-in’ stage.
- Document request and “pre-assessment interview” questionnaire shared with government appointed Team Lead to start gathering information.
- Distribution and completion of QA stakeholder surveys (seed companies, points of sale/distribution, representatives of farmers)
- “Assessment interview” with appropriate regulatory leaders to gather missing information, ask follow up questions
- Development of hypothesis of indicator scores, with rationale; review with 1) SSAT experts, 2) Team Lead and colleagues
- Revision and clarification based on results from #7, development of final assessment and scores
Discussion of Analysis / Outputs
Based on answers and discussion, a score will be recorded to provide the assessment for the indicator. Most scores will be a Likert score, but some will be yes/no. Ideally there will be good agreement with the Team Lead on the score.
Example of question with relevant Likert scale:
Is there good implementation of QA field inspection activities for local production of commercial seed?
|The required field inspection activities by the certification agency occur and are always or almost always timely, well-coordinated and accurate||The required field inspection activities by the certification agency occur and are timely, well-coordinated, and accurate approximately half the time, but either don’t occur or are problematic the rest of the time||The required field inspection activities by the certification agency rarely occur or are rarely timely, well-coordinated and accurate||There is no effective implementation of the required field inspection activities|
- Assessment scores will take user opinions into account, but will be triangulated with facts and best practice standards
- Notes taken during interview and scores assigned will form the basis for identifying areas for improvement and recommending mitigation measures
- Report will include scores, areas for improvement and recommendations