The purpose of the SADC Variety Release System is to make it easier and cheaper for new and existing varieties to gain access to SADC countries. This in turn aims to stimulate availability of more varieties, encourage more companies to invest in seed business in SADC countries, and thus increase farmers’ choice.
The System involves the SADC Variety Catalogue and the SADC Variety Database, which the SADC Seed Centre established in 2014 and continues to maintain. Seed varieties listed in the Catalogue can be sold in all SADC Member States without restrictions related to variety.
The System operates in close collaboration with designated NSAs. Before a variety can be entered in the Regional Catalogue, it needs to be released in at least two SADC countries. Thereafter, the variety holder may apply for regional release which is done through the NSA in one of the two countries where national release was obtained. The application must be accompanied by a reference seed sample, proof of national clearances in the two countries, Distinct, Uniform, Stable (DUS) and Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) test results, and other information as outlined in SADC procedures.
After clearance by the NSA, this Authority forwards the application to the SADC Seed Centre where the application and accompanying data are verified, and a decision is made concerning regional release. After the decision is made, a copy of the application is forwarded to the NSA in each SADC Member State. In the case of approval, the variety is entered in the Regional Catalogue and in the SADC Variety Database, and may now be sold in all Member States. If the variety is not approved, it will be entered in the SADC Variety Database with information about the reasons for rejection. The same Database will also hold brief descriptions of landraces and local plant varieties.
Click here to see a process diagram for reference.
A Member country can apply for permission to prohibit the use of a given variety in its territory if the country can document in line with procedures of the System that the variety is not suitable for its growing conditions. GMO varieties cannot be listed in the SADC Seed Variety Catalogue until Member States have reached a common stand on GMO varieties.
For further details on the SADC Variety Release System, visit Section 2 of the Technical Agreements on Harmonization of Seed Regulations in the SADC Region.