The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries launched Timor-Leste’s first National Seed Laboratory with the appointment of 15 new seed officers during an inauguration ceremony last Friday.
At the ceremony Minister Assanami inducted 2 Pure Seed Officers, eleven District Seed officers, a Seed Analyst and the Coordinator of Seed Quality Control who have been training in-country and abroad for the past 2 years to take over responsibility for the seed testing laboratory.
With the development of the National Seed System for Released Varieties seed producers can now submit their produce for official testing to determine and display its quality, giving them a distinct advantage in the marketplace.
The laboratory will conduct tests on physical purity and germination percentage (which determine seed cleanliness and viability) and moisture content which affects storability.
“The inauguration of this laboratory is essential to guarantee our farmers and farmer’s associations have access to good quality seed”
Depending on the level of testing the seed goes through it will be categorised as either ‘Certified’ or ‘Truthfully Labeled’. If the produce doesn’t meet the required standards it will be rejected, thereby providing the quality assurance seed buyers and farmers need so they can purchase seed with confidence.
Both Certified and Truthfully Labeled seed must go through laboratory testing to receive a label of authenticity, but Certified Seed is additionally inspected in the growing phase by an Authorised Field Inspector to determine genetic purity, measuring the contamination of the seed by other varieties of the same species.
“The inauguration of this laboratory is essential to guarantee our farmers and farmer’s associations have access to good quality seed,” Chief of the MAF’s Seed Department, Lucio Nuno, said.
Quality control safeguards will contribute to the development of Timor’s seed business by protecting farmers from receiving seed of poor quality from seed producers. The labels for Certified and Truthfully Labeled seeds will include the crop type, variety type, seed class, expiry date and quality indicators from the tests.
“The introduction of Certified seed is important. It guarantees the seed is good quality but it also pushes everyone to buy and sell seed of a higher grade,” the Chief of a Baucau seed producing group, Alberto Carlos de Jesus, said.
The seed tests will also provide useful information to seed producers, seed quality control officers, and policy makers who can now monitor and respond to data from the laboratory.
For example, Seed Quality Control Officers will have records of seed expiry dates and will be able to withdraw expired seed from the market.
MAF-SoL provided the laboratory with basic equipment including a seed germinator, purity table, moisture tester, seed divider and sampling rods, used to draw varied samples from different levels of a storage container, which will all contribute to the accuracy of seed testing results.