Flagship 4 focuses on promoting effective seed dissemination for better delivery of improved cultivars to smallholder farmers to enable improved delivery and adoption of new technology packages.
Region-specific information on market demand for seed of dryland cereal hybrids or Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs) is scattered, which makes it difficult to determine the types of products to be developed, or to identify farmer response to the range of products under development. This flagship intends to combine seed-system analyses and country case studies along the ‘seed value chain’ to identify systemic bottlenecks and facilitate the formulation of robust policies and strategies for specific country situations. The flagship will also conduct an industry mapping of actors in the input value chain (seed and fertilizer) to understand key constraints, challenges and strategies to overcome gaps, as well as policy and infrastructure issues in input supply and delivery systems.
In sub-Saharan Africa, feasibility studies are required to identify the most appropriate impact pathways and the commercial opportunities for private seed companies. Such evidence-based analyses will enable advocacy for the development of formal and private seed sector for dryland cereals.
Linkages with the private seed sector are very critical to the transfer and commercialization of technologies from lab to land, as the private sector is closely associated with farmers and end users, and can play a vital role in understanding customer needs and priorities. Dryland Cereals will lobby for change on seed policies through umbrella groups such as Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD). Areas of importance include harmonized varietal release policies, acceptance of quality declared seed or truthfully-labeled seed as a legal seed class and reform of national seed laws.
A framework for fast-track variety release and accelerated seed multiplication will be advocated to strengthen NARS to ensure regular supply of basic (foundation) seed. Small-pack seed distribution will continue to be popularized to support smallholder women farmers and to create awareness of new varieties. Functional seed units with adequate access to physical, human and financial resources will be supported or established to overcome critical gaps in basic (foundation) seed production by the NARS. These activities will be linked to large-scale certified-seed multiplication, by partnering with existing public seed enterprises, emerging private seed companies or existing/newly formed small-scale enterprises wherever a formal seed sector is absent. These efforts will be augmented by stronger capacity development of partners including NARS, seed producers, agro-dealers and farmers.