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Djibouti: Strengthening skills for producing high quality vegetable seeds

The Djibouti government is increasingly prioritizing local food production to reduce its dependency on imports. But there is currently no local seed production, and in response to this, the World Vegetable Center is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture (MAEPE-RH) to develop the vegetable seed sector, in partnership with national institutions including the Life Sciences Institute of Djibouti Study and Research Center (ISV-CERD) and the Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry (DAF). As part of this, three WorldVeg scientists undertook a series of training sessions on 14-19 April 2024, to strengthen the capacities of seed producers in the production of quality seeds; and of DAF and ISV-CERD staff on quality assurance and seed certification.

The first three days devoted to seed producers was attended by 11 vegetable growers who aspired to become seed producers. Topics included general seed production practices, administrative approaches (e.g. crop declaration), technical standards (criteria for plot selection, isolation distance, etc.), details for producing seeds of tomato, pepper, okra, eggplant and onion, and best harvest and postharvest operations including harvesting stage, seed extraction, drying, storing, and packaging. Discussions were held with participants throughout the training to understand the practices they currently use so as to better guide them on the adoption of best seed production practices.

The theoretical training was followed by practical sessions during a field visit to Ali Sabieh, including tomato staking, isolation distance, use of greenhouses, and identifying 'off type' plants, at a site where ISV-CERD were already producing seed since an earlier collaborative initiative between WorldVeg and the Seed Systems Group (SSG) in 2021-2022. After the field visit, participants expressed a wish to visit the ISV agronomy laboratory and see the equipment used for seed analysis, that also gave them an overview of seed quality parameters (germination, purity) and how production and postharvest practices can affect seed quality.

This was followed by a two-day training course on seed inspection and certification procedures for two ISV staff and three DAF staff. The regionally harmonized seed regulations in the COMESA region were presented, with key sections on seed inspection and certification highlighted. A draft of a vegetable certification manual developed by WorldVeg was also presented to the participants. A final version will be submitted over review and revision to the Ministry of Agriculture for use by seed inspectors, alongside additional capacity strengthening.


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