African countries need an effective and efficient seed system to develop the right seed to suit the unpredictable rainfall pattern resulting from climate change.
Across the continent, countries are witnessing shorter rainfall and a long drought period that is affecting rain-fed crop production.
Professor Paul K. Kimurto, the Director of Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils at Egerton University, said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a meeting on drought-tolerant crops in East and West Africa, held in Accra, Ghana.
The meeting sought to review the progress made towards a common vision and co-design of regional crop improvement programmes.
Prof Kimurto noted that many countries did not have well-functioning seed systems explaining that such a situation did not support the continent’s quest for food security amidst climate crisis.
“Majority of farmers on the continent still rely on saved seeds to sow during planting season. Studies have also shown that a farmer’s ability to get good yield partly depends on the planting materials,” he said.
“It is a double challenge because aside from the seed problem, the planting and harvesting period of such planting materials is not favourable to the changing weather patterns, thereby reducing yields.”
The establishment of a functioning seed system, he said, would hamonise the activities of value chain actors, including farmers, agriculture extension officers and researchers on existing seed varieties and potential assortments to fit the changing climate.
Prof Kimurto said a robust seed system would spur the development of drought- tolerant crops, especially cereals and legumes that played a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change.
He stated that African leaders needed to focus some attention on putting in place the right environment and structures to ensure the penetration of telecommunication services to support electronic extension rural areas.
That, he said, would facilitate dissemination of climate smart technologies to rural farmers to enable them to learn and practice sustainable farming and boost production.