KATHMANDU, July 20: The state-run Central Seeds Testing Laboratory (CSTL) at Harihar Bhawan has received international accreditation to certify the quality of seeds of food grains and vegetables, becoming the first food quality testing lab in the country to get such accreditation.
The accreditation has created an environment whereby seeds exporters can now expect the hassles, which they so far faced while exporting locally produced seeds to the international markets, to end.
The CSTL was awarded with the accreditation after a team of Switzerland-based International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) -- a global agency to standardize seed labs -- inspected its technical capability in December 13, 2011.
"The ISTA issued the accreditation certificate after the CSTL upgraded its technical capacity by adding new equipment, enhancing quality management system and deploying necessary human resources in line with the suggestions that its team made," said Dr Hari Dahal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture Development.
Now countries across the globe would need to recognize the certificate that it issues on physical purity, germination power and moisture of the seeds.
"However, the lab will still need to get accreditation for certifying the viability, seed health and Genetic Modified Organism (GMO) of the seeds in order to make sure that the seeds that it certify are unconditionally accepted by the countries across the world in any circumstances," he added.
With the awarding of the accreditation to the lab, Nepali seed exporters can now prove the quality of their produce by merely producing its quality certification.
In order to ensure credibility of its certification, the lab has enforced quality testing manual, standard operating procedures, standard manual for operating equipments and laboratory safety system, as required by ISTA.
"We expect this global recognition to Nepali lab certification will make significant contribution in enhancing the export of food grain seeds and vegetables seeds," added Dahal.
Data of Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) show that Nepal had imported around Rs 1 billion worth of seeds of different agriculture produces in 2010/11, whereas its seeds export in the same year was meager Rs 80 million.
So far, CSTL was engaged in testing the quality standard of all varieties of food grains, vegetables, fruits and other agro-produces for the domestic market. It has also been registering the imported seeds, beside releasing the new varieties of different crops developed by Nepal Agriculture Research Council, the state own farm research agency, in the market.