Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) equipped a new laboratory in village of Tsilkani operated by the Scientific-Research Centre (SRC) of the Ministry of Agriculture with all the necessary equipment for seed quality control. Seed samplers, a microscope, a germination cabinet, a safety cabinet and other laboratory equipment will allow experts to conduct seed quality testing in line with international standards.
“This laboratory with its new equipment is one of the most important components for building a seed certification system as well as conducting the high-level scientific research. This is the path to reach our ultimate goal – to produce and use high quality seed materials,’’ said Nodar Khatiashvili, the head of the SRC’s Division of Standardization and Certification for Planting and Seedling Materials.
Rehabilitating and equipping the Seed-testing laboratory of SRC is one of the components of a FAO project that provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture to develop and adopt a seed certification system. The system is considered as one of the essential pillars for enhancing seed production and thus improving agricultural productivity in Georgia.
The fully functional seed certification system itself requires a legislative foundation. FAO supported the Ministry of Agriculture in the development of a Law on Seeds. A group of FAO international legal experts participated in the preparation of a draft Law on Seeds that will be presented to the parliament of Georgia for approval later this year.
FAO initiated several activities to support the establishment of a seed certification system. One of these activities involved several seed producers in a Voluntary Certification System. The participants were challenged to produce certified seed materials for the 2015-2016 season. As a result, the SRC awarded five seed producing companies certificates for producing high quality and consistent seed materials.
Under the project, experts trained SRC staff in international seed testing standards and field inspection methods. Along with theoretical presentations and discussions, practical field inspection trainings were held in plots. A tour of the Gyumri Breeding Institute was organized for the whole group. In addition, the participants were introduced to the activities of the Institute and visited the demonstration plots. Additionally, three representatives of the SRC participated in a Regional Training Workshop on Variety Testing & Seed Quality Control and Certification, organized in Ankara, Turkey, by FAO.
”The main objective of FAO’s technical assistance is to support the sustainable development of seed production by promoting a seed certification system in Georgia,’’ said Mamuka Meskhi, FAO Assistant Representative. ’’Applying high-quality certified seed will result in increased production and not only contribute to improved livelihoods of the farmers, but also promote the export potential of the country.”
To raise awareness about field inspection and seed production development in farmers and seed producers, FAO prepared a booklet that will be disseminated among the interested parties. The project will be finalized in April, 2016 with practical training of the SRC staff in using the seed testing laboratory equipment. The project is funded by the Austrian government.