Agricultural trade is faced with non-tariff restrictions of which sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures may be the most constraining to developing and least developed countries (LDCs) in terms of exploiting trade opportunities. National phytosanitary capacities therefore determine to a greater extent the ability of a country to access new markets and to ensure safe agricultural imports into its territory. Developing and LDCs with inadequate phytosanitary capacity are increasingly faced with the challenges of protecting plants and the environment, participating and representing their interests and concerns in international standard-setting organizations (ISSO) and meeting their international obligations (WTO, 1994; IPPC, 2011).
Seed is a key input for improving agricultural productivity and ensuring food security. Seed security is a precursor to food security because availability of high quality seed sets the limits to crop production and productivity. Movement of seed from one SADC member state to another continues to be a challenge because of various pieces of seed legislation that have not been reviewed to the current reality by taking on board the contemporary applications. As a result, sourcing of seed by countries with deficits from those with surpluses within the SADC region is hampered by the diverse and fragmented phytosanitary legislations. The pieces of legislation that directly impact on seed availability in the region relate to, 1) crop variety release, 2) seed certification and quality assurance and 3) phytosanitary and quarantine systems.