The objective of the writeshop held on March 25-29, 2019 was to highlight and document ISSD-Ethiopia’s approach related to its four key performance areas through user friendly training manuals / modules and create better understand on Local Seed Business (LSBs) and Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) development pathway. Accordingly,13 ISSD regional unit experts (3 seed business development and marketing experts, 5 seed experts and 5 farm organization experts) developed 12 unified ISSD training manuals and proposed activities for different categories of LSB/SPCs as per the sustainability evaluation criteria agreed upon. The training materials on seed business management were designed to support different stakeholders and partners organization build the capacity of extension.
Overall, 12 training manuals (4 in quality seed production, 4 in business orientation and 4 in LSB/SPC organizational and financial management) were finalized. During the process the manuals were edited as per a manual template provided, and ISSD success stories, lessons learned / failures and pictures and ten Do’s and don’ts were incorporated.
The process started with identifying the manual user groups (experts of different organizations, seed producers, scaling partners), followed by peer review on the draft manuals to ensure they are user friendly (good parts, missing elements and additional elements to be added). The participants also shared cases, stories, lessons, etc… in their respective regions, and identified those relevant to incorporate in the manuals.
The next session on pathway for LSB development, was relevant to better conceptualize local seed business models; have insight into critical issues of LSB/SPC development and be inspired to further support LSBs/SPCs in their development efforts.
During the reflection session the experts acknowledged the relevance of the tool, and noted that low reinvestment experience of LSB/SPS’s and the current seed marketing system which is dominated by public seed enterprises, coupled with low marketing experience of LSB/SPCs attributed for low score of most LSB/SPCs. Lack of enabling environment for direct seed marketing and lack of experience and capacity to sale produce directly to end users affects the profitability level, profit margin as well as reinvestment capacity of LSB/SPCs.
Some experts also suggested to make land size criterion crop specific (cereals verses vegetables), since LSB/SPCs can be profitable and sustainable when they produce vegetable and forage seed on irrigated land with less than 30 ha. But it was agreed to use 30ha land size criterion since most of the LSB/SPCs are mainly engaged in cereals and pulses seed production.
Contributed by Teshome Lakew, National Seed Business Development & Marketing Expert, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopian Programme