A three-day workshop on Ghana’s Dryland Cereals and Legumes Seed System to gather inputs from multiple stakeholders along various commodity value chains for the creation of a seed system strategy where supply responds to grain demand signals has ended in Tamale.
It was to develop a common vision of seed systems where current grain demand, market intelligence, demand foresight and customer profiles drove seed supply as well as to develop a strategy for reducing the time lag between the release of improved superior varieties and their adoption and production by various categories of farmers, and utilisation by various categories of end users.
It was hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI) in partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
Participants included researchers, seed companies, NGOs, policy-makers, processors, farmers’ groups that produced seeds and grains, and regulators amongst others.
It formed part of the Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Systems in Africa (AVISA) project, which is aimed at improving the livelihoods of small-scale producers and consumers of groundnut, cowpea, sorghum, and millet.
Dr Chris Ojiewo, Coordinator of AVISA project, speaking during the workshop, said “It does not take an individual to solve the seed systems problem, it takes multiple stakeholders in a partnership that involves public, private partnership to make the system better by availing new varieties to stakeholders through whatever is working well for them.”
Variety development and release is one step in the impact pathway of dryland cereals and legumes, and even more critical is achieving widespread adoption and production of the new varieties.
However, in many parts of Africa, many released varieties stay on the shelf for several years before they are promoted and multiplied at scale for production and commercialisation by farmers.
This leaves several unanswered questions about the productivity and profitability and value of new crop varieties, hence the workshop to come up with strategies to address the situation.
Dr Richard Oteng-Frimpong, Plant Breeder at CSIR-SARI, and Focal Person for AVISA in Ghana, said “Currently, what we have is that most of the seed companies are more interested in producing hybrids and are therefore doing a lot of the maize and rice. For important crops such as groundnuts and cowpeas, the seed system is not that well developed basically, because the market for legume seed is not as vibrant as that of the cereals.”
He added that “However, we believe that farmers should have access to the seeds of improved legume varieties. Our objective here is to come out with a model that will work for the farmers and ensure that they have access to seeds of improved legume varieties to boost production in their fields and improve their livelihoods.”