A new Africa wide programme to support the development of a vibrant, market-oriented and pluralistic seed sector in Africa, has been launched in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD Africa) approach would address the challenges of access to quality seed, which affects agricultural productivity, income and resilience among smallholder farmers.
The ISSD Africa approach is an endorsement by the African Union (AU) Commission as contributing to the implementation of the African Seed and Biotechnology Programme and the seed agenda of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The CAADP aims at enhancing reliable access of smallholder farmers to sufficient quantities of quality seed of superior varieties at the right time and at an affordable price.
The programme, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dutch Government would be conducted in phases running from September 2014 to August 2016, a prelude towards the development of the five-year Comprehensive Programme.
During the piloting phase worth $ 2.5 million, ISSD Africa would work with existing seed programmes in 8-10 countries to explore how seed sectors could be integrated at local and national levels.
Priority themes identified include promoting entrepreneurship in the seed value chain, access to varieties in the public domain, matching global commitments with national realities and supporting AU programmes and seed sector development.
The project has an expected outcome to set up an Africa-wide network of experts, seed programmes and related organisations, and encourage those working in the sector to learn and network from each other.
Marja Thijssen, ISSD Africa Coordinator based in the Netherlands said: ?A well-functioning seed sector is vital to food security and farmers? livelihoods, but making it work is a complex challenge. Governments, businesses, farmers and researchers all need to work together to make Africa?s seed sector more vibrant, dynamic and resilient for many years to come.?
The project would be coordinated by a consortium of an African-based secretariat working closely with the Centre of Development Innovation of Wageningen University and Research Centre-Wageningen, the Royal Tropical Institute and Future Agricultures Consortium .