ICRISAT and its partners in Uganda have joined forces to operationalize a pre-booking system for breeder and foundation seed by facilitating seed demand forecasting and planning meetings with other Early Generation Seed (EGS) actors in the country. They are also supporting seed tracking and tracing activities to ensure proper coordination of quality seed delivery. Through the Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa (ISSD-Africa) project, the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI), one of the research centers of National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), and ICRISAT are working together with NARO Holdings Limited (NHL) and other key stakeholders in the seed sector to address EGS supply challenges, so that there is greater availability of quality seed of improved crop varieties in Uganda.
“This initiative will guide production and guarantee sustainable supply of EGS to dedicated seed companies for subsequent production of certified seed for sale to grain producers. It will also strengthen the capacity of stakeholders in the EGS value chain in the areas of demand forecasting and production planning,” said NARO NHL General Manager, Mr Chris Muwanika.
The shortage of EGS required to scale up production of improved varieties is a major bottleneck hampering availability and access to quality seed for smallholder farmers. NARO has the mandate to produce and supply quality EGS of improved varieties of crops, majorly cereals, small grains, oilseeds, grain legumes, pastures, and vegetatively propagated crops in Uganda. According to Mr Muwanika, NARO has the technical human resources to produce and supply EGS; however, institutional bottlenecks such as the non-tax revenue policy and protracted procurement processes curtail timely reinvestment of funds generated from seed sales to sustain production and supply. As such, NARO is unable to effectively respond to the increasing demand for quality foundation seed from commercial seed producers. To address this constraint, NARO partnered with NHL for commercial production and supply of foundation seed.
Beyond this initiative, the project has also supported on-station breeder and foundation seed multiplication for sorghum and finger millet at NaSARRI. Steps have been taken to secure off-take by initiating a pre-booking system through signing of partnership agreements with seed off-takers who produce commercial seed and also function as grain off-takers at the far end of the commodity value chain.
According to Ms Hellen Opie, a socio-economist and project team leader at NaSARRI, these efforts will ensure timeliness and availability of breeder and foundation seed in desired quantities by commercial seed producers in the country.
Robinah Nakabaggwe, NaSARRI/NARO, Soroti, Uganda
Hellen Opie, NaSARRI/NARO, Soroti, Uganda
Chris Muwanika, NARO Holdings Ltd, Kampala, Uganda
Essegbemon Akpo, ICRISAT, Nairobi, Kenya