The Seed Systems cluster is a vital part of ICRISAT's Accelerated Crop Improvement Program. Its research activities focus on two major development contexts that are crucial for improving the lives of dryland farming communities.

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), only 20-30% of farmers use improved seed, while in South Asia (SA), it is as high as 70%. This difference presents an opportunity for cross-learning between the regions.

The cluster also addresses the challenges posed by dysfunctional market structures, such as poorly organized seed value chains and weak policies. These obstacles prevent widespread adoption and use of improved seed varieties for dryland crops.

Considering these development needs, ICRISAT's Seed Systems Research Cluster aims to tackle the issues faced by the seed sector in SSA and SA. At the same time, it strives to improve access to high-quality seed and crop technologies, promoting sustainable and productive agriculture.

One of the main objectives of the Seed Systems Research Cluster is to establish functional value chains for dryland crops, ensuring that high-quality seed is available at the right time, scale, and scope. The research activities primarily take place in SSA and SA countries, with ICRISAT's primary centers of operation leading the efforts. Additionally, spill-over countries are also considered in the cluster's operations to maximize impact. In SA, the cluster operates from ICRISAT India, while in West and Central Africa, activities occur in Mali, Niger, and Nigeria. In East and Southern Africa, operations are conducted in Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Key achievements:

  Collaborative partnerships: ICRISAT has formed successful public-private partnerships to improve the entire seed production and delivery process. Initiatives like the Hybrid Seed Consortium and Seed Revolving Fund have played a pivotal role in enhancing seed availability and accessibility.

  Digital seed management: ICRISAT has developed user-friendly digital tools, including a seed catalog and roadmap tool. These tools enable efficient planning, tracking, and monitoring of seed production based on market demand, ensuring the right seeds are available at the right time.

  Alternative delivery systems: To address the unique challenges of genetically low-diverse crops (GLDC), ICRISAT has established informal seed supply systems. These systems offer alternative channels for farmers to access quality seeds, promoting sustainable cultivation practices.

  Product profiles for crop improvement: ICRISAT has created comprehensive profiles for GLDC crops. These profiles serve as valuable references, guiding researchers and breeders in developing improved seed varieties with enhanced traits and characteristics