Category Archives: ISSD news

Researchers trained on EGS production and supply in Ethiopia

One of the intervention areas of BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia is to improve Early Generation Seed (EGS) production and supply system. In line with that, the programme organized a two-day training for 52 research staff involved in Early Generation Seed (EGS) production. The primary objectives of the training held on October 29th and 30th, 2018 were to introduce the concepts of integrated seed sector development and seed systems, better understand Ethiopian seed related policies and discuss the roles and responsibilities of research institutes in the context of Ethiopian seed policies and regulations.

The two day training covered topics on

  • History of seed sector development in Ethiopia
  • The approach of integrated seed sector development
  • Strengthening formal, intermediary and informal seed systems
  • Seed policy frameworks
  • Seed value chain development
  • System of early generation seed supply
  • Seed quality control and seed quality assurance
  • Direct seed marketing and seed distribution

The participants discussed the need for a vibrant, pluralistic and market orient seed sector development to meet the increasing seed demand in the country and possibly exploit opportunity for global seed market. They looked at BENEFIT-ISSD sector wide inclusive approach to development, and the different kinds of interventions needed for formal, informal and intermediary seed systems.

The presentation and the discussion about the policy framework was an eye opener for most of the participant allowing them to relate their routine operation with the existing policies. And the session on  seed value chain looked at how operator-supporter-enabler configurations differ among crops and specific chains, but most significantly between different seed systems.

In relation to the roles of research institutions in EGS production and supply, the presentation and discussions gave the participants a realization that they are not operating in established system, and that their role is not limited to addressing the gap in EGS supply but also play key role in establishing a functional system.  Emphasis was given to undertake seed production in suitable agro-ecology and also to use seed value addition techniques like seed treatment – upgrading, priming, dressing, coating, pelleting and disinfection.

Even though researchers are not directly involved in the marketing of certified seed, the marketing session gave them a general knowledge on challenges associated with seed marketing in Ethiopia.

At the end of the training the participants were grouped according to their regions and identified two concrete actions the research institutes can undertake to support the development of the EGS system in Ethiopia. Potential actions proposed included internal and external quality control, starting EGS distribution based on contract agreement, addressing post-harvest management issues, supporting off-season EGS production, ensuring the implementation of EGS production as planned though strong follow-up, strengthening the linkage between agreement providers and contractors, ensuring on time seed delivery based on agreement, and EGS planned but not implemented to be done by irrigation etc.

The training was organized by the BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Programme Management Unit (PMU) in collaboration with Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation. Training sessions were facilitated by Dr Amsalu Ayana, ISSD Ethiopia programme manager at PMU; Dr Mohammed Hassena, ISSD Ethiopia Deputy Programme Manager at PMU; and Dr Marja Thijssen, Senior Advisor at WCDI.


BENEFIT-ISSD provided training to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of seed quality control

BENEFIT–ISSD Ethiopia programme organized a training for seed inspectors & lab technicians from Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MoALR) on “Seed quality control techniques and principles”, on August 8-9, 2018 at Pyramid Resort Hotel, Bishoftu, Ethiopia. The training was organized by BENEFIT-ISSD-PMU, based on the training need assessments conducted in collaboration with the MoALR Plant Variety Release, Protection and Seed Quality Control Directorate. Overall, the training was a success in strengthening the implementation capacity of seed inspectors and lab technicians for efficient and effective seed control system that is essential to reduce seed rejection rate, minimize complaint of farmers’ about poor quality seed and increase farmers and genuine seed suppliers’ satisfaction.

The first day training covered topics on seed analysis, germination and moisture tests. The second day was devoted to field level learning and exercise on seed quality control methods and principles both for cross-pollinated and self-pollinated crops and on the use of control plots in seed quality verification of agronomic crops. Group discussions were conducted to ensure the participants understood clearly the concepts presented and to enable them to relate the theories they learned with the practice they can apply in their day to day activities.

The training was very much appreciated by the 29 (26 male and 3 female) seed inspectors and lab technicians drawn from Oromia region (13), Amhara region (12) and Southern Nation Nationalities and Peoples regions (4)  participated in the training program.

Building effective university research and community service programmes in Ethiopia

BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia (Integrated Seed Sector Development) programme organized a one-day symposium to discuss the role of universities in agricultural innovation in Ethiopia. Realizing the key roles universities play in facilitating innovation and system changes, the symposium was organized to improve institutional arrangements of outreach programmes and change paradigms to have greater impact in the agriculture sector. The symposium that was held on July 8, 2018 in Debre Zeit was a great opportunity to identify systematic measure universities need to apply to build effective research and community service programmes.

Over 60 participants, including the State Minister, Ministry of Agriculture Presidents and Livestock Resources (MoALR), Director of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Presidents and Vise Presidents of 15 major universities, representative from Ethiopian Agricultural Research Council Secretariat (EARCS) and BENEFIT staffs attended the symposium. The meeting was facilitated by Dr. Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager and Dr. Maja Thijssen, Senior Advisor, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI).

The objective of symposium were to

  • Improve the effectiveness of research and community service of universities;
  • Identify and discuss the value of different services that can be offered; and
  • Explore business models to embed within the universities structure to deliver these services.

Four universities (Hawassa, Bahir Dar, Mekelle and Haramaya) presented current services offered by their respective universities’ outreach programmes. Each university presented background information on when and how their community service programme started, its structure, administration and staff, thematic areas covered, types of interventions included, partners and stakeholder involved, and challenges and lessons learned over the years.

BENEFIT-CASCAPE and BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia presented their experiences in brokering innovative technologies. In the afternoon, WUR-WCDI business model outreach covering the five WCDI value propositions, customer segments, channels used to reach clients, keeping customer relationships, resources, activities, partners, revenue streams, cost structure etc. was presented.

The last session of the day focused on the future of universities outreach programmes. The participants were divided in four groups to answer two questions on improving responsiveness to society issues and change paradigms for greater impact?





BENEFIT–ISSD Organized Training on ISSD Guiding Principles and Approaches

Contributed by Tesfa Assefa, ISSD Knowledge Sharing and Communication Expert, Hawassa University

BENEFIT–ISSD organized a three-day training on ISSD Guiding Principles and Approaches on April 17-19, 2018, in Bishoftu town for project staff from all regional project units. The training was intended to acquaint new experts with ISSD guiding principles and approaches, and to refresh knowledge of existing staff. Overall, 18 participants including seed business development and marketing experts, seed value chain experts, farmer organization experts and seed experts attended the training.

The training covered key issues such as history of seed sector development in Ethiopia; introduction to ISSD approaches and guiding principles; informal seed systems and local seed business; multi-stakeholder partnerships and sector governance; gender mainstreaming and analysis; crowd sourcing; and business model canvas. It was  facilitated by Gareth Borman, Dr. Amsalu, Dr. Mohammed, Teshome, Sanne, Selam and Miressa.

Welcoming speech was made by Dr. Amsalu (BENEFIT – ISSD Manager) in which he gave an overview of the purpose and agenda of the training and talked about key components in establishing a successful organization in today’s world: vision, passion, value and discipline. His speech was followed by a power point presentation on history of seed sector development in Ethiopia.

The training employed group work exercises, power point presentations, reflection methods, debate and role-plays to help participants appropriately internalize the concepts and enhance active participation. The session on seed business model generation was found to be helpful by participants whereby they were able to come up with business ideas. A power point presentation was made on what business model is and why it is useful for seed sector development. During the group assignment on business model canvas, participants identified: key partners, key activities, value proposition, customer relationship, customer segments, key resources, channels, and cost structure and revenue streams. At the end, they designed business models around three areas: Seed Producing Cooperatives, Seed Inspection and Certification Agency, and Farm Service Center.

Another important session of the training was gender mainstreaming in which participants were introduced to basic gender concepts; why gender is implemented in agriculture; and tools for gender analysis. Through group work exercise participants were able to internalize basic tools employed for gender analysis. Another group work exercises focused on analyzing the effects of the seed sector regulation on farmers.ISSD guiding principles and approches pic2


BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Provided Seed Marketing Training for Seed Producers

On February 20 & 21st 2018, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Programme organized a two-day training on seed marketing for public and private seed producers.  Nineteen (18 male and 1 female) managers and marketing experts, representing Ethiopian Seed Enterprise, Oromia Seed Enterprise, Amhara Seed Enterprise and private seed companies in Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR and Tigray Regional States attended the training held at Pyramid Resort, Bishoftu, Ethiopia.

The objectives of the training were to:

  • refresh the knowledge, understanding and skill of seed producers in seed marketing, including demand estimation and promotion
  • put seed companies on demand-driven seed production, marketing and distributions path
  • create opportunity for experience sharing among seed producers, and
  • raise awareness of the public seed enterprise to be more effective in giving services and make reasonable profit through effective marketing and distribution

The training was organized and facilitated by BENEFIT-ISSD Program Management Unit (PMU) as part of its objective to build the technical capacity of seed producers in seed production, processing, marketing and distribution.

At the end of the training, both public and private seed companies were motivated to use market oriented approach in seed production, marketing and distributions.  This will mean more seeds will be sold through direct seed marketing and enhanced promotion in 2018, leading to increased use of certified seed and hence decreased seed carry-over.  The training is also expected to contribute to a well-balanced public seed supply that meets the service demand (as part of its social obligation) and increase its profit margin to stay in business.

BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia facilitated a workshop in establishing a national early generation seed (EGS) production and supply system

On February 19 & 20, 2018, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Programme facilitated a workshop in establishing a national early generation seed production and supply system, at Pyramid Hotel, Bishoftu, Ethiopia.  The two-day workshop that focused on 2018 cropping season was attended by a total of 27 stakeholders (one female), representing the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR), Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Amhara Region Agricultural Research Institute, Oromia Agricultural Research Institute, South Agricultural Research Institute, Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, the four regional bureau of agriculture and natural resources, Ethiopia Seed Enterprise, Oromia Seed Enterprise, South Seed Enterprise and ISSD staff members. The workshop was organized and facilitated by BENEFIT-ISSD Project Management Unit in response to a special request from the MoANR to facilitate the establishment process.

In previous workshops, it was agreed the objective of the system will be to:

  • Ensure sustainable and demand driven early generation seed production and supply system in the country
  • Close the critical gap in early generation seed production, that is limiting certified seed production and thereby seed supply
  • Establish responsibility with full accountability for production of the four classes of seed (breeder seed, pre-basic seed, basic seed and certified seed)

To this effect, the workshop was conducted with the following objectives:

  • To review the four regions’ (Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray) 2018 cropping season plan for early generation seed production and supply
  • To share experiences and learn from each other on how to plan for early generation seed production
  • To discuss and ensure that pertinent partners understand their responsibilities in planning for early generation seed production
  • Facilitate a demand driven planning for EGS production and supply for 2018 cropping season and beyond

The workshop started with regional and national presentations on their respective 2018 early generation seed production and supply plan, based on trend of demand from previous years, regional Growth and Transformation Plan, demand of seed producers and resources like land, budget and human. That was followed by group discussion, and plenary on sustainable way of planning for demand driven early generation seed production and supply. The planning process involved pertinent stakeholders including farmers, regional research institutes, regional seed enterprise, Ethiopia Seed Enterprise and private seed companies.

The workshop was a great opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on the approach and intended goal in exercising the planning process and marketing system development for EGS.

At the end of the workshop, the participants learned on best approach to use in the planning process, agree on when and how to finalize the national plan, built consensus on how the federal early generation seed demand producers fill the regional gaps, and agreed on how early generation seed marketing will be organized to ensure fair allocation of EGS to different seed producers.

LSB: The source of alternative seed supply

Contributed by : Gebrehawaria Berhane /MU-ISSD/

Wereda Endamekoni is one of the high land areas of southern zone in Tigray region. It is known for cereal production especially wheat even though farmers were affected by the lack of seed access. Before the government identified the wereda as a potential wheat cluster, farmers were active in producing, preserving and exchanging wheat crops among themselves in the absence of institutionalized seed cooperatives. Some farmers from Meswaeti Tabia tried to observe the experience of Local Seed Business (LSB) found in adjacent weredas.  Having such kind of indigenous knowledge and LSB experiences on wheat crop varieties, farmers organized themselves as LSBs mid-2013.

Biruhtesfa is one of the LSBs established with the same objective. The LSB had 50 founding members [14 females] with ETB 15,000 initial capital and 27.5 hectares of land as seed business startup.

Where Biruhtesfa is now?

After three years of engagement in seed multiplication and dissemination, Biruhtesfa currently has 114 members [30 females], over ETB 155,000 cash excluding fixed assets.   In addition, the LSB’s annual seed supply capacity increased from 358 quintals to 895 quintals in the last three years. More than those overall developments, the LSB and its members are equipped with experiences on how to multiply and disseminate quality seed for themselves and beyond.

Kahsay Hiluf is the chairperson and founding member of Biruhtesfa. Biruhtesfa is one of the 14 LSBs founding members of Hadnet Raya seed producer and marketing union cooperative PLC in the southern zone. The LSB bought one share with ETB 25,000 from Hadnet Raya seed producer union. Moreover, it has planned to buy another share with ETB 25,000 keeping the same procedures. Kahsay said that Meswaeti  Tabia has a total of 431 hectares of arable land. Out of this, 250 hectare is suitable for wheat seed multiplication. To use the opportunity, the LSB is in track to exploit the ISSD project’s capacity building efforts and financial support and also other research institutes. The training on cooperatives seed multiplication, marketing principles and advantages of having business plan given to the LSB by ISSD project staff are crucial for seed multiplication activities. The LSB is collecting certified seed from its members so as to deliver to Hadnet Raya seed producer and marketing union.

Major challenges faced

As the chairman stated, seed shortage, late seed delivery, unaffordable price, and knowledge gap among seed producer farmers are the major challenges the LSB faced so far.

Biruhtesfa and Way forward

The LSB’s future plan for 2018 includes:

  • Recruit 55 new members;
  • Prepare 12 hectares of additional land;
  • Increase the LSB’s capital to ETB 180,000;
  • Supply 1,500 quintals of seed to the union.
  • Purchase 70 quintals of basic seed and
  • Employ one professional accountant
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