Seed certification is a regulatory process designed to maintain and make available to farmers high-quality seeds and propagating material of superior crop varieties, grown and distributed to ensure genetic identity and genetic purity. It also ensures other factors, including the absence of weeds and disease, analytical purity, and viability. Seed certification is a quality assurance system whereby seed intended for marketing is subjected to official control and inspection. The major objective of seed certification is to ensure the genuineness and quality of the seed to the purchaser. A well-organized seed certification system helps in accomplishing the following three primary objectives:
- establish and maintain reasonable standards of seed quality.
- facilitate the production of seeds of specified quality.
- maintain the identity and purity of varieties.
The seed quality in Nepal is assured by two systems.
- Seed certification system
- Truthful labeling system
Classes of seeds:
Seed certification system Truthful labeling system
Seed certification system:
In the seed certification system, certifying agency supervises closely all the activities related to seed production, processing, and marketing. Seed producers, traders along the certifying agency are responsible for the seed quality. A seed certifying agency affixes a tag onto the seed container of different classes.
i) Breeder seed:
Breeder seed is directly controlled by the plant breeder of the breeding program who developed the seed or institution involved in the seed development. Breeder seed is available in small quantities. Breeder seeds must have 100% genetic and physical purity with no weed seeds, diseases, and pests. If the breeder seed is to be stored, then it must be tagged. It has a tag with brown color background and is written in black color and signed by the breeder who developed the seed.
ii) Foundation seed:
Foundation seed is produced from breeder seed under the supervision of a seed production specialist. Foundation seed is produced by the person or institutions or agencies who have taken permission from NARC. Foundation seed must have genetic purity of 98%, physical purity of more than 95%, minimum germination percent 80-85%. It has a tag with white color background and is written in black color and signed by the seed certifying officer and seed producer.
iii) Certified seed:
Certified seed is produced from foundation seed under the supervision of a seed specialist. Such type of seed is produced by a person, cooperatives, or institutions who have taken permission from a government farm, research center, or from a related authorized body. It has a tag with white color background and blue color band on the left side of the label and signed by seed certifying officer and seed producer.
iv) Improved seed:
This type of seed is produced either using foundation seed or certified seed under the supervision of a seed producer or seed specialist. Improved seed is used for the commercial production of crops and is produced in large quantities. It has a tag with yellow color background and is written in black color, signed by the seed certifying officer and seed producer.
Truthful labeling system:
It is a mandatory system of seed quality assurance in which the activities related to seed production, processing, and marketing is supervised by the breeder himself of related company officers. Seed producers or traders must be responsible for the quality of seed they deal with.
i) Breeder seed:
Breeder seed is produced by the company or cooperatives or institutions that have taken permission for varietal development. Breeder seeds should be genetically 100 % pure and should be free from weed seeds, diseases, and pests. Seed can be stored with the joint signature of the breeder, representative of the related institution, and certifying agency. It has a tag with brown color background and is written in black color.
ii) Source seed:
Source seed is the progeny of breeder seed. Source seed is produced by private seed companies, institutions, agencies, or individuals who have taken permission for seed production, under the supervision of seed specialist of private companies or institutions or cooperatives. Source seed must have genetic purity of 98%, physical purity of more than 95%, and minimum germination percent 80-85%. It has a tag with white color background and is written in black color, signed by the seed producer.
iii) Label seed:
Label seed is produced by seed companies or institutions or persons who have taken permission for varietal development. Label seed is produced by using source seed under the supervision and control of the seed specialist from a private company or institution. It must have genetic purity of 98%, physical purity of more than 80%, minimum germination percent of 80% with inert material less than 2%. It has a tag with white color background and is written in blue color.
iv) Improved seed:
Improved seed is produced in large quantity for commercial production under the own supervision of the producer. The quality and standard of seed are maintained and produced as required by the pollination behavior of crops. It has a tag with yellow color background and is written in black color, signed by producer and processor and seed specialist involved. Logo of seed company must be maintained with seed storage.
Label information includes:
- Crop and variety
- Seed class
- Lot number
- Year of production
- Recommended domain
- Date of seed testing
- Seed standard (purity, germination, moisture, content)
- Name and dose of chemicals used, if any;
- Name, logo, and signature of the producer
- Name, logo, and signature of the certifying agency
Phases of seed certifying:
- Scrutiny of application:
The SQCC requires receipt of application to verify the variety is eligible for seed certification; the sources of seed are authentic and with the conditions mentioned on the minimum seed certification standards.
- Inspection of seed fields:
At appropriate stages of crop growth, for isolation, proceeding crop requirements, and other specific operations, there is a need for a good piece of land that meets the conditions as per the minimum standard for certification.
- Rejection to the field:
Immediately, after the conclusion of the inspection season, all reports on problem fields should be grouped and evaluated. The director of the seed certification can make a preliminary determination on what action needs to be taken. The action should be communicated to the grower immediately with a copy to the concerned inspector.
- Harvesting, threshing, and transportation:
Seed crops meeting the seed standards for the certification shall be harvested, threshed, and transported to the seed processing plant following the guidelines issued by the certification agency. During these operations, seed producers will take all the precautions to safeguard the seed from admixture and other causes of seed deterioration.
- Scheduling of certification
The certification agency shall prepare and communicate the seed processing and packaging schedule to all certified seed producers soon after the certification of seed crops at the field stage. Thus seed producers shall adhere to the schedule specified by the certification agency. However, the re-scheduling may be accepted by the certification agency on the request of seed producers on genuine grounds.
- Seed sampling:
Sample at the seed processing plant of all the seed lots thus needs the agency’s tag, submitted sample, working sample, seed testing laboratory for testing purity, germination, mixture, other crops, and weed seeds, etc. If a lot fails to meet the standard then retesting should be done to ensure no error has occurred.
- Tagging and sealing:
Upon receiving a satisfactory report from the office of the seed testing laboratory, tagging and sealing should be done under the supervision of the agency. A fixing of tags and seals on containers completes the process of certification.
- Seed Analysis report :
The seed testing laboratory analyzes the seed samples following the prescribed procedure and delivers the seed analysis report to the certification agency within 30 days from the date of receipt of the samples.
- Seed standards of genetic purity:
All the certified seed lots shall conform to the minimum standards for genetic purity prescribed.
- Foundation seed = 99 % genetic purity
- Certified seed = 95% genetic purity
- Seed Standards for Insects Damage:
A seed lot under certification shall not have apparent or visible evidence of damage by insects for both Foundation and Certified seed classes above 1.0% for the seeds of maize and legumes and 0.50% for the seeds other than maize and legumes.
- Seed moisture content:
Seed standards in respect of seed moisture shall be met at the time of packing of seed.
- Refusal of Certification:
The certification agency has the authority to refuse certification of any seed production field or any seed lot that does not conform to the minimum standards prescribed for the particular crop, either for field or for seed or both. Such refusal will be subjected to any appeal made to the seed act (1966).
- Validity of Certification:
The validity period shall be nine months from the date of the test at the time of initial certification. The validity period could be further extended for 6 months provided on re-testing seed conforms to the prescribed standards in respect of physical purity, germination, and insect damage for all seeds except vegetatively propagating material for which lot shall be re-examined for seed standards specified for the respective crop. A seed lot will be eligible for an extension for the validity period as long as it conforms to the prescribed standards.