The future prosperity of sub-Saharan African farmers is closely linked to partnerships and joint businesses. Their investment will unleash agriculture’s potential. As government budgets for the sector decline, an increasing expectation is on the private sector and other partners to finance the gap. These partnerships advance mutual interests and mobilize strengths and resources in a transparent and equitable manner to achieve a common goal.
CABI’s Good Seed Initiative (GSI) is a partnership project operating in East Africa. Our aim with this work is to contribute to the food and nutritional security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the region, and others involved in seed and vegetable value chains. Developing sustainable partnerships is key. We work with partners throughout the seed value chain – from producers, researchers, regulators, extension workers, to private sector seed companies, the media, academia and civil society organizations. We regularly bring partners together to discuss and develop a common vision to achieve the project’s goals.
Image: Participants of a GSI 'Innovation Platform' meeting
Since 2013, GSI activities have been implemented in Tanzania. Partnerships here have helped directly reach 266 farmers (over half of whom are female) and increase their skills and knowledge to produce and market good seed and vegetables. The initiative reached over 5,000 additional farmers through farmer-to-farmer training, exchange visits, demonstrations and shows.
The project also helped farmers to begin producing seeds of African Indigenous Vegetables (amaranths, night shade, African eggplant, Ethiopian mustard and okra) and then expand this. Around 15,500kg of certified seed and 4,500kg of quality declared seed was produced during 2015. The average selling price was TZS15,000 per kg and seed producers earned approximately TZS300 million (about $142,860).
GSI also strategically linked farmers to extension services, certification agencies and markets. This ensured that farmers were always provided with technical support, received inspection and certification services for their seed and could continue to supply quality seed to their clients. Seed and vegetable producers were linked to markets – seed companies / agro-dealers and vegetable traders – to ensure that farmers had a sustainable market for their produce.
Unique contribution of the partnership
The partnership approach focused on the entire value chain, from production to marketing through to consumption. Campaigns encouraged consumption of African Indigenous Vegetables which stimulated local demand for seed. It targeted people with specific support functions in the value chain and established formal contracts and service level agreements, including grower and production agreements. It also helped establish policy and regulation to produce and market African Indigenous Vegetables seed and identified key issues with multiple stakeholders and jointly addressed them. Overall, the project has shown great success.
By Monica K. Kansiime, CABI