Category Archives: ISSD news

Seed Producer Cooperatives benefit from crop insurance in eastern part of Ethiopia

Towards strengthening the stability of Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) and protect them against losses caused by crop failure, one of BENEFIT-ISSD’s activities focus on piloting crop insurance for SPCs. Following an agreement made in 2017 between Chercher Odabultum Farmers’ Cooperative Unions (COBFCU) and the Oromia Insurance Company (OIC), Daro Gora SPC collected the first payment due to very poor 2018 rainfall performance in West Hararghe Zone. The payment that was based on Multiple peril crop insurance (MPCI), was worth about 900,000 Birr for a partial claim of 40% crop failure on 80ha of land.

The agreement covered three SPCs (Daro Gora, Milkessa Lafto Goba and Misoma Gudina) and was made with a 450,000 Birr capital to claim 9 million recoveries for complete loss that may happen in 2018. A total of 420 SPC members who were directly affected received payment from 1700 birr to 7775 birr. Farmers who benefited from this pilot insurance scheme noted that the effort has increased their confidence and commitment to make long term plans for their seed business.

ISSD insuarnce pic2

“I never thought insurance was available for farmers and crops,” said Kebede Ogecho, Daro Gora SPC members in Guba Koricha, father of eight. “We thank the Union for facilitating this insurance scheme. This initiative created motivation among members and non-members to invest more in seed production business”.


A guide to transform the national seed sector in Ethiopia

The National Seed Advisory Group (NSAG), together with the Seed Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) developed a document to guide and align the efforts of policy makers, development partners and practitioners towards transforming the national seed sector in Ethiopia. It covers the assessment of the current status of the seed sector and identifies major challenges along with strategic interventions to transform each of the seed sector key pillars, considering seed production, marketing, services, regulation, revenue generation, and overall coordination of the seed system. The document was developed by diverse organizations, among then BENEFIT-ISSD, and validated through stakeholders’ consultations at several fora. (Download the document here)  

Enabling private seed producers produce disease free potato mini-tuber

Even though potato is a high potential crop that contributes to food security, its productivity is very low in Ethiopia. Lack of disease free quality seed and especially the occurrence of bacterial wilt is a major challenge since the majority of farmers use farm saved potato seed from the local market or through seed exchange. The recent ISSD and ENTAG collaborative effort towards addressing this major limiting factor focused on provision of grants to a competitive private seed producer to produce and supply disease free quality potato minituber using screen house and drip irrigation technologies. ENTAG provided 25,000 Euro grant for Loma Azmir private seed producer one of the 4 direct private companies supported by ISSD Amhara unit since 2016.

Loma Azmir is expected to become one of the best seed producer companies of the region through the adoption and utilization of improved, efficient agricultural technologies and expect to contribute much for the seed sector development.

The production started with a construction of 15 m X 8m X 3 (Length, width and height) screen house and 8mx6mx5m Diffused Light Store (DLS) in the potato potential areas of East Gojam zone, Michael woreda, Amanuel kebele. The standard screen house is built with mush wire, cemented floor and uses ground water. It is equipped with drip pipes, hydraulically operated and diaphragm-actuated control valves and other components.

The potato mini-tuber, Dagem, Jaleni and Gudeni varieties were planted in 1500 pots. The producer is expected to produce 400 quintals of certified quality seed benefiting about 80 farmers in the initial stage (assuming that the average land holding for potato is 0.25 ha per farmer). Loma Azmir recruited one expert specialized in agronomy, and constructed the store and office in the farm site.

While ENTAG contributed by allocating the grant, ISSD Amhara unit supported the seed producer in creating linkage with (plant supplier, Woreda office of agriculture, quality regulatory authority and Adate Agricultural Research Center) and facilitated linkage with Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara Region (ORDA) to get  mini-tuber, and provided technical support at field level.        


One of the key activities of ISSD programme focuses on advancing Early Generation Seed (EGS) production contractual agreements to ensure the availability and affordability of EGS from research and seed producers. Accordingly, ISSD Amhara unit held a two-day meeting, to evaluate and learn from its 2018 EGS agreement performance, and review and approve 2019 plan.

The first day was attended by 15 core group and seed unit members and high officials and assigned by the Ministry. The Regional Bureau of Agriculture presented the achievements and challenges encountered in 2018 crop season. Overall, EGS production of hybrid maize, teff and to some extent wheat crops shows promising results, while malt barley, sorghum and faba bean EGS production remains challenging.

It was noted that in spite of the contractual agreement and regular discussion among core group and seed unit members, there were unwillingness observed by some seed producers to supply EGS agreed upon. The need to put in place mechanisms to enforce the agreement was highlighted repeatedly.

The second day was devoted for reviewing, approving and singing of 2019 contractual agreement. The discussion focused on the role of the core group and seed unit to cascade next year plan, members responsibilities, and how to address shortage of land and breeder seed.  A total of 50 participants from regulatory authority, ATA, public seed enterprises, private seed producers, research institutions, unions, BOA and ISSD staffs attended the planning and signing session.

Overall, the participants appreciated the role ISSD plays in bringing key stakeholders together to conduct demand assessments, planning and signing of agreements between seed producers and buyers.

Contributed by Wonzie Asmare, Knowledge Sharing and Communication Expert – BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia – Amhara Unit 

Strengthening the capacity of seed quality control authorities

On May 27 & 28, 2019, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia (Integrated Seed Sector Development-Ethiopia) programme organized a two day training on “Seed quality control techniques and seed related international conventions, treaties and understandings” for 11 (8 male and 3 female) general managers, deputy managers, directors, seed inspectors and experts. The participants represented four seed quality control authorities in the four regional states of Ethiopia (Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and SNNPR).

The training was useful to (i) enhance competence in leadership with clear vision so as to ensure delivery of quality seed to farmers; (ii) increase inspiration to further develop knowledge and skill in the area of seed regulatory frameworks, and (iii) increase availability and access to quality seeds of improved varieties by strengthening strong seed quality assurance system, which protects both seed users and genuine seed companies. The participants agreed the training was timely and will help them improve their seed quality control skill and hence, enable them provide good service for their client seed producers and distributors.

Key topics covered during the two-days training were

  1. Seed related international conventions, treaties and understandings
  2. Ethiopian seed policy, seed strategy, and seed regulatory frameworks (seed law and its regulations, directives; PVP and its regulation and directives; access and benefit sharing; biosafety)
  3. Seed regulatory harmonization at regional level (e.g. COMESA, SADC, ECOWAS) & its purposes
  4. Seed quality assurance at field level
  5. Seed quality assurance at laboratory
  6. Seed quality assurance (objectives and mechanisms) &
  7. Licensing seed producers and seed dealers- amendment of qualification criteria for obtaining COC

The training was organized by BENEFIT-ISSD-PMU based on training need assessments made in consultation with the managers of the four seed regulatory authorities. It was held at Pyramid Resort & Hotel, Bishoftu.

It was facilitated by resource people from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and ISSD Ethiopia Programme.

Strengthening partnership to boost malt barley production for breweries

The recent fast expansion of breweries in Ethiopia is presenting a unique opportunity for malt barley producing farmers in Tigray. To capitalize on this opportunity BENEFIT progrmmes (ISSD, CASCAPE and REALISE) have been working on various interventions to strengthen the malt barley value chain with partners across the board. Accordingly, the Southern Zone Agricultural Coordination office and BENEFIT projects (ISSD, CASCAPE and REALIZE) jointly conducted a consultative workshop to enhance malt barley production and marketing in southern Tigray on May 14, 2019 in Maychew town. Partners from universities, research centers, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Tigray Agricultural Marketing and Promotion Association (TAPMA), Global Malting Service (GMS), Raya Brewery Share Company, Hadnet Raya Seed Producer and Marketing Union, Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs), officials from woreda and Southern Zone agriculture offices and BENEFIT staff attended the workshop.

Professor Kindeya G/hiwot, President of Mekelle University, officially opened the workshop. In his remark he appreciated the work BENEFIT is doing and underlined the need for strong collaboration to strengthen the malt barley platform to resolve challenges and encountered in production and marketing malt barley. Four papers that focus on BENEFIT research and development activities, the need for partnership, Ethiopia’s experience in malt barley production; challenges and opportunities of malt barley production in Tigray (experience of GMS) were presented and discussed.

During the discussion lack of EGS (Early Generation Seed) was identified as a key challenge. Using FTCs (Farmer Training Centers) for seed multiplication; expanding malt barley production areas to other highland areas (Degua-Tembien, Atsbi-Wenberta, Ganta-Afeshum and Laelay-Maychew weredas) and releasing low land malt barley varieties were proposed as possible solutions.

The workshop was instrumental to discuss action plans towards joint partnership responsibilities and ensure accountability towards agreed upon activities. BENEFIT projects agreed to focus on mapping malt barley producing areas, create linkages with universities, research centers and buyers, and increase engagement in capacity building and policy influencing. Universities and research centers agreed to work on EGS multiplication, variety and package development, value chain analysis, seed health research, police research and niche identification.

BENEFIT-ISSD co-organized high level international multi-stakeholders workshop on seed system development

An international multi-stakeholders workshop on enabling and scaling genetic improvements and propagation materials, was held at IRLI Addis Ababa campus,  Ethiopia on Friday 17, 2019. The workshop gathered around 80 local and international experts to explore how to tackle major bottlenecks in the functioning of seed systems for smallholder farmers. The workshop was relevant to deepen the understanding of the  seed sector complexities, what has worked in practice, create synergy and over all strengthen collaboration among major stakeholders.

The objective of the workshop was to create interest among key international and regional agrifood sector actors and investors to collaborate in further enabling and scaling genetic improvement and propagation materials (seeds). The participants looked at challenges in current seed system and how to jointly identify solutions to tackle these challenges at systematic level.

The opening remarks were given by Andre Zandstra (CGIAR, Director Funder and External Engagement), Robert Bertram (USAID, Team Leader, International Research and Biotechnology) and H.E. Dr. Ms. Aynalem Nigussie (Ethiopia, State Minister for Agricultural Inputs and Marketing). That was followed by three presentations on

  • A value chain of innovation towards delivery. How to tackle the challenges for seed system change. By Philippe Ellul (CGIAR, Senior Officer)
  • The practice of current seed value chains towards delivery. The role of public-private partnerships. By Ian Barker (Syngenta Foundation. Head Agricultural Partnerships)
  • Ethiopia’s Seed Sector Transformation. By Mohammed Hassena – Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD)-Ethiopia, Deputy Manager

The next two sessions focused on SSD-Research projects and a panel debate on “Institutional arrangements for realizing the potential of improved varieties”.  In the afternoon, the participants visited Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center (DZARC) and Amuari High Yield Varieties and Agricultural Product PLC, organized by BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia. The participants met with DZARC Director who introduced the role of the Center in seed production and with pulse improvement team leader who explained the limited interest of private businesses in seeds of pulse crops and how the Center is working with seed producer cooperatives and private companies to increase the production of pulse seed. They also visited the DZARC laboratory and a private company that works closely with DZARC and is successful in producing non-hybrid crops.


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