Lack of access to quality seed, particularly of traditional crops that are not well integrated into the formal sector, remains a key challenge for increased productivity of these crops in African farming systems.
CABI, working with national and regional partners, aims to strengthen seed systems in Africa through developing farmer seed enterprises and linkages to markets. Focus has been on traditional varieties that are farmer-preferred for their nutrition, food security, income and environmental sustainability. This is aimed at enhancing access to quality seed of farmer-preferred varieties locally, nationally and regionally.
In Uganda, CABI worked with farmer groups in central Uganda producing and supplying seed of African indigenous vegetables (AIVs). Common AIVs in central Uganda include; amaranths, scarlet eggplant, Africa nightshade, African eggplant, spider plant and pumpkin. However, the key production challenge remained prolonged droughts affecting seed quantity and quality, and subsequently supply. With support from European Union (EU) and African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), CABI piloted appropriate irrigation facilities with three farmer groups. With irrigation facilities, farmers can plant at different times and ensure constant supply to the market all year round.
The availability of irrigation facilities has also aroused more farmer interest to engage in seed production. During season 2017B, more than 10 acres of land have been put under seed production by smallholder farmers with an anticipated seed return on 1.5 tonnes from 4 groups (54 seed growers). This represents 60% increase in seed production compared to 2016 (season A and B combined). The increase in number of farmers has also been attributed to the benefits they have achieved from seed production, particularly income from seed sales and access to quality seed for own vegetable production.
Working with Simlaw Seed Uganda Ltd, a schedule has been drawn for seed production by farmer groups to ensure balanced seed supply to the market. Previously, all farmers produced seed under rain-fed conditions and seed reached in the market at the same time, creating a situation of over-supply. With irrigation facilities, farmers can plant at different times and ensure constant supply to the market.
“We don’t have to wait for rain any more to plant our fields. We can now produce all year round,” said one of the members of Kyamutakasa farmers group in Nakaseke.
Other project achievements in 2017:
- Training in seed production for 3 new groups and technical backstopping for 3 old groups (81 participants o/w 58 are women).
- 3 groups installed with irrigation facilities.
- 10 extension workers trained in seed production and received training manuals.
- 3 farmer groups signed seed supply agreements with Similaw Seed Uganda Ltd.
Written by Monica Kansiime
For more information contact: Monica Kansiime (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Christine Alokit (email@example.com).