Working for improved seed is mandatory in Africa
ICARDA is working in other areas, including the Arabian Peninsula for crop and seed improvement. It is not the only organization working in Africa for seed improvement and educating growers in new technology, including higher quality seed. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and partner organizations are helping to build the human capacity of seed companies, which contribute to food security by ensuring farmers have access to quality seed.
CIMMYT organizes regular training sessions for seed companies in different countries across Africa, in collaboration with the Seed Enterprise Management Institute (SEMIs) project, which is funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) and hosted at the University of Nairobi College of Agriculture and Veterinary Services.
“AGRA realized that many seed companies across the continent lacked knowledge on seed production, processing, marketing and aspects of seed quality,” said David Ndung’u, project manager for the SEMIs project. Both AGRA and CIMMYT receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the past three years, SEMIs has trained more than 450 seed producers from 17 Sub-Saharan African countries, including Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
“This training has been identified as one of the triggers for the huge increase in production of high-quality seed by AGRA-funded seed companies all over Sub-Saharan Africa,” Ndung’u said. The seed production course, taught by John MacRobert, seed systems lead for CIMMYT, is among the most popular with seed companies, Ndung’u said.
The trainings emphasize cooperative learning while providing technical information and management tools. CIMMYT seed systems specialists also made more than 80 follow-up visits to seed company partners in 2013.
“To be a great ‘seeds man’ you really need to understand your plants well,” said Ndung’u. “My knowledge and understanding were greatly enhanced during my time at CIMMYT.
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