Improving access to quality seeds in Africa
Published: July, 2014
AIVs (African indigenous vegetables) have traditionally been a significant contributor to food security and nutrition for smallholder farmers in East Africa and are also important in providing incomes, particularly for women. However, farmers’ capacity to meet a growing demand for these vegetables has been limited by lack of good quality seed.
After testing three farmer-led seed production models, the project team – facilitated by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and led by CABI – concluded that a ‘contract’ model is the most effective, with farmers earning on average US$4,500 (up from US$1,500) per year. Under this system, farmers are linked with the private sector and are guaranteed to receive high quality seed that meets regulations and market requirements, while also being assured of a market.
For farmers with no formal contracts with seed companies, a ‘research mediated’ model was found to be the most appropriate in countries with a strict regulatory seed system, and where regulations are more flexible, a ‘quality declared seed’ model worked well. Plans are underway to upscale this work in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and begin tackling marketing challenges, to provide and sustain the demand for high quality AIV seed.