Category Archives: ISSD news

SEED PRODUCTION ALERT – Ethiopian Seed Sector November 2020

BENEFIT ISSD-Ethiopia took the initiative to assess the status of seed production in 2020 so as to inform stakeholders on issues that need attention. If seed production increases in 2020 as expected, it will create pressure on seed producers’ resources and capacity in terms of seed collection, processes and storage, affecting timely certification and distribution of seed. In addition, existing structural problems that limit access to fertilizer, agro-chemicals and credit will further discourage active engagement of private seed companies, increasing dependency on public companies.

Read the full brief here.

BENEFIT-ISSD Amhara Unit Report on Lessons Learned and Selected proceedings

BENEFIT-ISSD Amhara Unit published a report “Consolidation of ISSD Amhara Unit Best Lessons and Selected Workshop Proceedings” that highlights the programme successes  in Amhara region. The report summaries 17 key achievements in empowering Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) to become more autonomous and commercial in their operations in the seed sector, promotion of contractual agreements, ensuring seed quality, provision of technical training, establishment and promotion of institutional setup (core groups, platforms) to bring systematic change and collaboration with key stakeholders towards sustainability and institutionalization.  The report covers the following topics

  1. A Thriving Community of Women Seed Producers in Amhara Region
  2. Contractual Early Generation Seed Production and Agreement Improvements to Unlock Challenges
  3. Institutionalization of the Regional Core Group and Issue of Sustainability
  4. Worth of Seed Quality Assurance in Amhara Region
  5. Regional Potato Platform Establishment
  6. ENTAG-ISSD Collaboration to Enhance Disease Free Potato Mini-tuber Production for Private Seed Producers
  7. Institutionalizing ISSD Major Achievements; Consultative Workshop with University Higher Officials and Seed Unit Members
  8. ISSD Amhara Unit Practical Training on Seed Production, Marketing and Business Plan Development
  9. Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) and BENEFIT Team Visit to Amhara Region Projects
  10. Empowering Seed Producers through Financial literacy
  11. Collaborative Training on Seed Production, Marketing and Cooperative Management
  12. ISSD Amhara Unit Participation on the 3rd Amhara Region Cooperative Exhibitions
  13. Institutionalizing Crowd Sourcing and PVS Systems in Amhara Region

The report also includes abstracts of theses published over the years by students supported through the programme.


With lessons to inspire policymakers and practitioners alike, this film tells how Ethiopian and international partners have guided Ethiopia’s seed sector transformation. This film is a companion for a new case study which highlights key elements of the approach towards facilitating systemic change in the Ethiopian seed sector. The case study shares lessons for those who strive to guide sector transformation elsewhere.



Download and read the case study here

As part of the BENEFIT Partnership (Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort on Food, Income and Trade), ISSD Ethiopia contributes to increased quantity and quality of sustainable agricultural production, improved markets and trade, and an enabling environment for agriculture in Ethiopia.For more information on the work on BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia look at their website here 

ISSD Amhara Unit started Wheat Direct Seed Marketing (DSM) pilot project in Amhara region

Since 2011, BENEFIT ISSD, Amhara Unit implemented Direct Seed Marketing (DSM) on hybrid maize reaching 56 maize potential woredas in Amhara region. Compared to conventional way of accessing seed, DSM has proven to address problems related to long chains and channels, high bureaucracy, dalliance of seed accessibility and high annual seed carry over. That is why, in spite of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 pandemic, ISSD Amhara Unit conducted two DSM workshops in the first week of June 2020 taking all emerging restriction and precautions into consideration. The decision was made to keep the momentum of DSM successes achieved so far, and contribute to easing the effect of COVID-19 on the seed sector in the coming year.

ISSD Amhara unit intervention on wheat DSM started with an agreement between ISSD Amhara Unit and regional decision makers and Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) to start a pilot in two zones (Jama in south wollo enewari and jiru in north showa). The workshops were conducted in collaboration with Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and BoA. A total of 40 individuals from regional agricultural bureau, seed and other agricultural input quality regulatory and quarantine authority, unions, cooperatives, zonal and woreda agricultural bureaus attended the workshop.

During the workshop, the participants looked at the region DSM performance, reasons for starting DSM in the selected two zones, existing weak awareness of DSM, reluctance of seed producers and unions to participate in DSM, dalliance to start pilots to showcase DSM successes and implementation challenges that might surface due to COVID-19. The workshop was instrumental to get commitment from relevant stakeholders, especially BoA towards a successful implementation of DSM.

At the end, consensus was reached to commence DSM using multipurpose cooperative as agents, and for unions for public seed producers to pay key role in the DSM process. ISSD will conduct monitoring and evaluation and ATA will focus on capacity building of agents. Zonal and woreda agricultural office agreed to select agents, build awareness on DSM and lead the overall implementation of the pilot.

By Wonzie Asmare, Knowledge Sharing & Communication Expert, ISSD Amhara Unit

The Second BENEFIT ISSD-Ethiopia seed alert highlights the effect of COVID-19 mobility restrictions on the Ethiopian seed sector

The second BENEFIT ISSD-Ethiopia COVID-19 seed alert that was published this week highlighted issues related to release and registration of new varieties, timely supply of early generation seed (EGS),  quality assurance in EGS production, reduced availability of varieties in high demand and challenges related to producers access to agro-inputs, labor and finance.

The 2nd seed alert (#02 June 2020 seed alert) outlines COVID-19 related major challenges and urgent actions needed in the Ethiopian seed sector, based on virtual surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders. It outlines the major alerts, their impacts, actions required, stakeholders involved, and a responsible body to take the initiatives. The effort is designed and initiated by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) and ISSD Ethiopia Program to raise awareness on the situation and its impact of COVID on the seed sector.

Read more

Promoting cooperative based seed production: The case of ISSD Amhara Unit support to Serten-Endeg SPC

Over the past two decades, Ethiopia has pursued a range of policies and investments to boost agricultural production and productivity. One of them focuses on increasing the availability of improved seed, vital to increase agricultural yield by significant folds. In support to this effort, Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Ethiopia implemented many projects through four implementing partners, four universities (Bahir Dar, Haramaya, Hawassa, and Mekelle), Oromia Seed Enterprise, Ethiopian Seed Producers and Growers’ Association, with technical support from Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI). Since 2009, ISSD used many innovative approaches to improve the seed sector, especially to identify, acknowledge and develop diverse sources for seed upon which farmers can rely on. And one of them focus on transforming Local Seed Business, (LSBs), groups of farmers organized as seed producer cooperatives into self-reliant and sustainable local seed businesses.

ISSD’s recent effort working with Serten Endeg Seed Producer Cooperative (SPC), that specializes in hybrid maize and wheat in West Gojjam zone, Burie zuria woreda Zalma kebele, is a good example how ISSD’s approach transformed a weak SPC into a self-sustained and stable cooperative capable of contributing to sustainable seed supply in the country.

At the start of the intervention, Serten Endeg SPC was characterized by lack of members’ trust, divided committee memebers, poor governance and lack of infrastructure. The woreda cooperative office acknowledged that the SPC’s management did not adhere to cooperative principles and guidelines, and members were not confident about their collective entity due to poor management transparency.

ISSD Serten-Endeg Seed Producing Cooperative washing machine picThe project first identified the gaps through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Based on the findings, ISSD Amhara unit conducted discussions with the LSB executive committee, woreda cooperative office and Bureau of Agriculture (BoA). With the assistance of the Woreda office of agriculture and ISSD Amhara unit, an agreement was reached for the LSB to work on seed quality assurance and acquire Certificate of Competence (CoC). The Woreda cooperative office audited the cooperative, assisted in carrying out general assembly meetings and contributed to improving the governance of the SPC. ISSD provided the necessary grant to the SPC for finishing a store and office construction and provided technical support and training in various areas.

As a result of this collaboration the cooperative has shown tremendous achievements and the woreda cooperative office is appreciated the improvement seen within short period of time. The cooperative recent audit found the cooperative to be profitable and members’ trust of the management committee has increased.  The cooperative is aspiring to use its member’s and rented land, to produce more crop seed and add wheat as new seed in the next season. At present, the cooperative is attracting new members. As the result of linkage created by ISSD Amhara Unit Bahir Dar University, the SPC tackled its marketing problem and sold its seeds to Amhara region farmers and Ethiopian Seed Enterprises, seed union and private seed producers.

The cooperative is also looking into an option of working with contractual seed production. Moreover, due to the project support the seed producer cooperative is now a member of Ediget Bandinet Seed Union that is found at Burie.

Recently, as a result of collaborative effort between ISSD and ATA, the cooperative installed a cleaning machine. To resolve challenges related to power supply, ISSD Amhara Unit facilitated the purchase of a generator through provision of grant. The testing of the cleaning machine was conducted in May 2020, where 25 members of the cooperative attended. That was followed by training of 4 people (one expert and 3 farmers) in operating and managing the machine.

ISSD’s Amhara Unit support in organizing the seed producer as a legal entity, obtaining certificate of competency, building basic infrastructure, linkage with market and service providers, and enhancing the seed producers’ capacity were vital in strengthening and creating a self-reliant SPC that can contribute to seed supply towards improving food security in Ethiopia.

Lessons learned from a decade of ISSD in Ethiopia

2019 marked a decade of ISSD in Ethiopia. Ten years have passed since the concept note on Integrated Seed Sector Development in Ethiopia was endorsed by the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), FAO and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) at Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa.

In the last ten years, ISSD Ethiopia registered many achievements in the areas of

  1. Introducing Local Seed Business (LSB) model to more than 270 Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) and 50 development organizations across the country and enhancing pluralism in seed production.
  2. Farmers’ use of quality seed increased 28% between 2014 and 2016. The programme improved the availability and use of quality seed for more than 4 million smallholder households, reducing bureaucratic burden, inefficiency and costly rates of carryover seed in some cases by as much as 85%.
  3. ISSD Ethiopia introduced the concept of Direct Seed Marketing (DSM), piloted it, and helped scale its practice in 313 districts across the country.
  4. ISSD Ethiopia pioneered the establishment of independent seed regulatory authorities in Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR to enforce regulation and improve delivery of public services to the sector, including licensing, certification and quality assurance.

A strategy which greatly contributed to these achievements was the establishment of regional seed core groups in the four regional states where ISSD Ethiopia operates. The groups, composed of selected key decision-makers in the regional state arena, including: deputy-/heads of the BoA; directors of research institutes; representatives of public and private seed producers and farmers’ organizations; and coordinators of seed related NGO- and multi-/bilateral projects. Jointly, they formulate interventions to overcome strategic challenges, coordinate developments, facilitate partnerships, channel financial and technical resources, monitor and support interventions and embed successful interventions in working practices. Much of the attention has been directed to addressing the underlying causes of systemic problems.

As ISSD Ethiopia’s presence continued and results materialized, collaboration was increasingly solicited at federal level. After years of investment in piloting innovation and facilitating dialogue, ISSD Ethiopia generated good rapport to pursue sector wide and inclusive strategy involving institutional and regulatory reform.

Today there exists a stakeholder-owned and MoA endorsed seed sector Transformation Agenda, a draft seed policy and amendment proposal to the 2013 seed law. Whilst these results outlined are an achievement in itself, they are yet to lead to positive impact on the performance of the seed sector. What is a necessary and challenging task is still to come, in translating these documents into action and the actual implementation thereof. ISSD Ethiopia has already started raising awareness of the strategies proposed in the Transformation Agenda. It was presented to 24 MoA staff in the presence of the State Ministers, who directed their staff to incorporate the strategies in their new multi-annual plan. With the same outcome in mind, a process started at the regional level. 700 copies of the Transformation Agenda have been distributed for public reference.

Lessons learned

  1. Embrace systemic change: ISSD Ethiopia did well to focus its narrative on systems, addressing systemic changes and root causes of stubborn problems of the seed sector, and raising the ambitions of its partners. Developing the vision of tomorrow was a far better point of departure than dealing with the pressing day-to-day problems, elevating the dialogue to a far more strategic level. But it is good to note, it is challenging to work on systemic changes with professionals from different organizations as they tend to approach issues and solutions primarily from their own field of expertise and interest. We should also keep in mind systemic change is a slow game, considering that much of ISSD Ethiopia’s efforts from as far back as 10 years’ ago are only recently coming to fruition.
  2. The programme employed a sector model, which helped participants in the process to unpack complexity, realize the interdependencies between building blocks of the sector, and create a shared language.
  3. ISSD Ethiopia worked in parallel with key stakeholders at regional state and federal levels, which created familiarity and trust making communication and follow-up effective. Exchange of experiences between regional states created confidence for those lagging behind. ISSD Ethiopia’s collaboration with other partners was pivotal in building its credibility crucial for successes achieved and has earned ISSD Ethiopia government’s trust as a respected adviser.
  4. ISSD Ethiopia has been strategic in adapting to unfolding circumstances of Ethiopia’s dynamic political environment into consideration.
  5. The turnover of staff in public institutions in particular has been an enormous obstacle (but also an opportunity if you consider ISSD Ethiopia’s history with officials that have come to power);
  6. Finally, ISSD could not have been successful in its effort on sector transformation without its dedicated and skillful staff.

New effort to better understand and mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the seed sector: A collaborative effort between ISSD Ethiopia and WCDI

In response to COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on food security, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Program’s recent effort focuses on better understanding how the pandemic affects the seed sector and supports the development of urgent coping strategies that would enhance resilience and support continuity of activities of the seed sector. The initiative that was initiated and designed by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) aims at raising awareness on the situation and its impact on the seed sector. It is based on a country quick scan of the impact of COVID-19 and responses to the pandemic on different functions and practical activities in the seed sector.  It is implemented in four countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Myanmar), where ISSD program is already being implemented.

The first quick scan in Ethiopia was conducted in April and report issued during the first week of May. It was conducted through rapid remote survey and crop specific focus group discussions (FGDs), targeting maize and wheat seed systems. A panel of experts, representing government, research, seed companies, service delivery and farmer organizations, was established to answer survey questions on full range of seed value chain functions and seed value chain services and enablers. Closed questionnaire related to the level of impact on practical activities within the current frame in time were used to prioritize issues. A summary of the results generated automatically and further validated by virtual FGDs, focusing on maize and wheat seed systems. The validated alerts and the coping strategies are shared with pertinent stakeholders for take action.

Reiteration will be done at least monthly for the full duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly dashboards on outcomes of the periodical survey will be widely shared among stakeholder thorough meetings (taking the necessary precaution or using video conferencing taking the emerging restriction into consideration) and variety of communication tools mostly digital. [read more on “How does COVID-19 affect the seed sector” introductory brief here)

The outcome of the first of the assessment for the month of May (#01 May 2020 Seed Alert Ethiopia) has been shared with federal and regional stakeholders and decision makers, including the federal Ministry of Agriculture, the regional bureaus of agriculture and the Agricultural Transformation Agency as well as research system. (Click here a Q & A on the briefing). The May quick scan outcome highlighted the following Alerts

  • Alert 1: Precautions hamper seed processing and distribution
  • Alert 2: Short supply of inputs and labour constrain seed production
  • Alert 3: Social distancing diminishes government’s capability to coordinate EGS supply
  • Alert 3: Concern that substandard seed will make its way onto the market is heightened

For more information


Production of minitubers in screen house contribute to provision of sustainable disease free potato seed: ISSD Amhara Unit

Organizing farmers into Seed Producer Cooperative (SPC) is a key strategy to grow and market much needed quality/farmer preferred seed. Addis Alem SPC, established to produce and market potato seed in Amhara region since 2002 GC is a good example how SPCs can play key role in seed value chain development. The SPC is one of the 4 SPCs directly supported by ISSD Amhara unit, organized with the objective of production, packaging and marketing of improved/farmers preferred seeds in the region.

In Ethiopia, potato is regarded as a high potential crop owing to its ability to provide high yield per unit area with a short crop cycle. It is an important food security and hunger reliever crop by virtue of its ability to mature in advance to most other crops at the time of critical food shortage. However, in spite of the increasing demand, productivity of potato has always been low and declining over the years due to lack of quality disease free seed supply.

Majority of farmers use farm saved, disease susceptible potato seed obtained from local market or exchanged among farmers. In spite of seed regulations in the region, the systems have largely been operating under limited human capacity and facilities without quality control. Poor functioning seed systems, lack of commercial seed production systems, inability of the informal seed system to maintain seed quality and eliminate diseases are consistently ranked among the major constraints in potato production.

Recent years efforts to satisfy the increasing demand by different researches, the regional government, NGOs and other development actors focused on increasing the areas of production rather than increasing productivity through tackling the major productivity constraints – availability of disease free quality potato seed and limited access to suitable varieties. Traditionally, seed potato production systems in the country have the responsibility of research centers and seed producer cooperatives.

In collaboration with regional partners, the work of ISSD to improve the performance of potato value chain started with analysis to better understand the main constraints along the potato seed value chain. Based on the survey result, ISSD in collaboration with Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) supported Addis Alem SPC in production and supply of disease free quality potato mini tuber using screen house.

The production started by the construction of 15 m X 8m X 3m (Length, width and height) screen house and 15mx8mx5m Diffused Light Store (DLS) in the potato potential areas of South Gondar zone, Farta woreda, Awzet kebele. The standard screen house was built using mush wire, cement (for the floor), ground water, compost, sand and forest soil with close follow up, technical support and management. Initially the SPC planted 900 plantlets in 900 pots to produce disease free potato mini-tuber and produced 13000 G0 tubers (on average 14tubers per pot) of Belete variety. During the next round the SPC produced 6000 G1 mini tuber, which was planted on half hectares to produce 200qt G2 of quality disease free seed potato.

Despite the first doubt of the farmers and to their pleasant surprise, it was possible to get 14 tubers from a single plantlet. This has increased the demand or potato seed considerably within a short time.

Misgan Mulaw, “I was able to get enough G1 disease free tubers to produce and sell 64qt of disease free seed potato to the SPC. I earned 60,500.00 Ethiopian Birr.” Similarly Ato Misganaw Haile and Awoke Fantaw produced and supplied 37 and 36qt and earned 29,600.00 and 28,800.00Birr respectively.

Ato Marew Awoke effort is a good example on the level of acceptance of the technique by the surrounding farmers. “I built my own screen house using the technique provided. And with the supply of plantlets from ARARI I was able to produce 1160 G0 tubers, and from that 6.5qt G1 disease free seed potato tuber.”

The main factors that are contributing to ensuring the SPC’s capability to become a sustainable source of quality potato source seed to the area include the cooperative’s infrastructure (screen house, ground water, DLS), experiences how to manage the screen house and its good linkage with plantlets source. Their success is currently being scaled up by Mush SPC in North Shewa zone, Basona Worana Woreda with the support of ISSD Amhara unit. Furthermore, Following a visit to Addis Alem SPC, Bahir Dar University and Debretabor universities allocated budget for construction of the infrastructure (screen house, hand dag well, DLS).  Guna union is being supported by Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) to build the necessary infrastructure to increase production and productivity of disease free potato mini tubers. ISSD Amhara unit supported by linking Guna union with various partners including plantlet supplier, the Woreda office of agriculture, quality regulatory authority and Adet agricultural research institute. The programme also  provided technical support at different levels. In addition, GO and NGOs potato platform was established at regional level to provide coordinated support for potato producers in the value chain development.

April 2020 – By Wonzie Asmare Knowledge Sharing & communication Expert, ISSD Amhara Unit

Contractual agreement boosts early generation seed supply in Amhara region: Lessons Learned from BENEFIT-ISSD Amhara Unit

One of the biggest challenges in raising the performance of the seed sector in Ethiopia is the current short supply of quality Early Generation Seed (EGS) of preferred varieties. EGS includes three different classes of seed, namely breeder, pre-basic and basic, that are used as the starting material from which certified seed is produced. Hence, by a different nomenclature, EGS is referred to as foundation seed.

Up until very recently, research centres were responsible to produce all four classes of seed, including certified seed in selected cases, with minimal interest from commercial enterprises. Both public and private certified seed producers, with the exception of Corteva Agriscience (which recently acquired Pioneer Hi-Bred), have historically limited their focus to certified seed only. Confounding the problem was the fact that researchers were expected to develop and release new varieties; maintain already released varieties; and research, develop and popularize other technologies that lead to crop improvement.

Due to this division of labour, weak integration, lack of coordination, unclear responsibility, minimal information on EGS quantity and variety demand, and coordinated planning, supply of EGS has been inadequate. Often, a mismatch between the supply of EGS by researchers and the demands of farmers was observed, and either too much or too little EGS of a given variety was supplied at great cost or missed opportunity. At times, request for basic seed would take up to two years to get sufficient quantities and seed producers struggle in responding to the needs of farmers.

Since 2017, BENEFIT ISSD Amhara Unit has been facilitating dialogues among different parties, to improve the linkage and coordination between researchers, early generation seed producers and farmers for sufficient and efficient supply of quality EGS. The effort resulted in an agreement to extend the responsibilities of certified seed producers to incorporate basic seed production, and focus the orientation of researchers on breeder and pre-basic seed multiplication exclusively.

The signing of a contractual agreement between certified seed producers and buyers (regulatory authority, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), public seed enterprises, private seed producers, research institutions, unions); singed in the presence of Amhara Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) resulted in

  1. A seed unit with dedicated team of researchers, established within the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) responsible for forecasting EGS demand and translating it into production plans for centres under its management.
  2. Forecasts started to be conducted by expert groups uniting researchers, early generation seed producers including Amhara Seed Enterprise (ASE) and selected private seed producers and seed unions.
  3. Specific agreements were reached on who produces what for whom, by in large shifting the orientation of researchers towards breeder and pre-basic seed exclusively and certified seed producers towards basic seed production. Bilaterally, contracts were signed between both parties defining the specific terms of EGS procurement, including quantity, date of delivery and payment.

Lessons learned

  1. ISSD Ethiopia Amhara Unit effort in facilitating the discussions on contractual agreements led to (re) organized forecasting, joint planning and procurement, and inclusion of relevant actors to improve reliability of forecasts and generate consensus and trust.
  2. Contractual agreements monitored and mediated by BoA gave clarity, created a legal ground that can be enforced by both parties. In all cases, the BoA serves as a witness to and mediator of contractual agreements between seed producers and buyer. Overall, the system reduced the burden of BoA in managing EGS supply in the region.
  3. The seed unit within ARARI created capacity for managing the process, while the involvement of both the regional seed core group and Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) enhance accountability.
  4. To ensure success, it is relevant to give special attention to enforcing contracts, as deviations from and defaults on agreements were common. And it should be noted that actors are usually reluctant to commit to contractual agreements without external facilitation and pressure.
  5. There is still the issue of land shortage that is limiting EGS production and need attention.



Amhara region seed sector transformation guiding document

The ISSD Amhara Unit, in consultation with relevant seed sector stakeholders recently published a handbook on the region’s seed sector transformation challenges and possible way forward. The document gives insights on the Amhara region seed sector strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and provides guidance on how to unlock major challenges that are hindering progress.  In addition, the document looks at other countries’ seed sector policy experiences, successful implementation strategies, responsibility of relevant stakeholders etc. The document was evaluated and validated  at different workshops and believed to highly contribute to the transformation of the region’s seed sector.

Here is the guiding document in Amharic 



ISSD Amhara unit conducted practical training on seed production, marketing and business plan development

Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Amhara unit organized a training on seed quality management, seed marketing and business plan development for selective Seed Producer Cooperatives’ (SPCs) executive committee members, woreda experts and civil organizers. The training was designed following a gap assessment that showed SPCs capacity limitations in producing quality seed, cooperative organization, marketing, and developing business plans and strategies. The 4 day training was provided during the first week of March and was attended by 30 participants.

Under quality seed production session, the participants covered topics on land preparation, planting season, seed rate, adoption and climate requirement, variety selection, agronomic practices, pest and disease prevention mechanisms, and post-harvest handling on three priority crops (maize, wheat, teff). Issues related to certification, shortage of basic seed, and year to year fluctuation of package recommendation were raised as major challenges.

The second session focused on SPCs’  experience on cooperative organization, management, business and entrepreneurial skills, and effective governance. During this session, the participants had an opportunity to discuss financial and management skill of executive committees members, lack of understanding on share value, limited support of woreda cooperatives, and recruitment of professional staff to run the SPCs as a business.

The third session was designed to fill the skill gaps of seed producers in developing business and strategic plans. The session covered topics on reviewing and investigating alternative, marketing strategies, and how to manage financial risks. Committee members and expert practiced on how to clearly set commercial goals and objectives and outline what resources (human, financial, etc.) will be needed to achieve the commercial objectives; where these resources come from; how to utilize these resources; target production; potential customers and stakeholders etc. The participants presented their business plan for feedback and comments to enrich is further.

The training was valuable and practical, taking our level of  understanding into consideration. Furthermore, the session gave us an opportunity to discuss our cooperatives challenges and develop a business plan.”  W/o Mosit, Sertain Endeg seed producer cooperative                               

“As a new committee, the training taught us how to manage the cooperative using  business plan and  helped us create linkage with relevant stakeholders share basic skills and expereines.” Ato Agmas, Lake Markos seed producer cooperative



Provision of low interest and collateral-free credit strengthening Seed Producer Cooperatives’ financial system: Lessons learned from ISSD Ethiopia

Despite its rising number of members and increasing seed production, Koticha Kuyu Seed Producer Cooperative (SPC) faced significant challenges that were affecting its sustainable development – especially in raising the necessary working capital needed to expand their business and benefit its members. Most members were not capable or willing to increase their contribution in the business and financial institutions are not prepared to offer affordable financial credit.

In response to this challenge, ISSD Ethiopia and the Regional Cooperative Promotion Agency (RCPA) of Oromia analyzed the situation of Koticha Kuyu SPC and facilitated the establishment of a Rural Saving and Credit Cooperative (RuSACCo). The aim was to mitigate members’ personal financial constraints through the provision of low interest and collateral-free loans to secure the timely procurement of seed through the provision of input vouchers. The effort resulted in the establishment of Gamachu RuSACCo in 2015.

Koticha Kuyu SPC is located in Lokloka Abe kebele in West Shewa zone, approximately 70km west of Addis Ababa. The SPC was founded in 2013 with 41 members including four women and initial capital of ETB 19,000. Today, the total number of members has reached 59, 12 of whom are women, and their capital has more than doubled. The area under seed production in 2018 was 92.5 ha, which yielded an estimated 1,843 quintal of quality seed.

Since 2015, Gamachu RuSACCo provided ETB 166,700 (~ € 4,765) loan to 93 individual with an interest rate of 5% or less. In 2018, the scheme took off, where 46 SPC members borrowed ETB 131,900 for very low interest rate of 1%. The SPC current savings has reached ETB 230,000. Gamachu RuSACCo has enacted two forms of saving in its cooperative bylaw. The first is a mandatory saving of each member, which was increased from ETB 50 to ETB 100 per month, and the second allows for voluntary monthly savings of whatever is affordable for members. Today, over a fifth of the cooperative’s members contribute ETB 200, more than the mandatory amount of ETB 100 per month.

Lessons Learned

  1. Efficient Rural Saving and Credit Cooperative (RuSACCo) significantly reduce SPC’s financial constraints contributing to their sustainable development. The Koticha Kuyu SPC currently has more than 200,000ETB to run its business efficiently.
  2. Time and continuous support is needed to build trust and show evidence on the benefit of RUSACCos to members. In the case of Koticha Kuyu SPC, it took three years to generate the proof of concept needed to convince members to save. While enacting bylaw that stipulates mandatory savings of members was important, voluntary savings from the members’ belief in the value of the scheme are even more powerful. For example, Ato Mulugeta Bekele, member of Gamachu RuSACCo, not only met the mandatory required savings for 2018/19 but made a voluntary contribution of ETB 5340 to his personal savings account. In addition, over time, due to the increasing drop in interest rate (as low as 1%), there is a significant increase in loan frequency and size.
  3. A well-coordinated effort (Koticha Kuyu SPC, Oromia RCPA and ISSD Ethiopia) is relevant to build capacity and provide necessary support through regular monitoring to create an efficient and effective delivery of saving and credit services.

ISSD conducted a briefing on institutional mapping and needs assessment of Ethiopia’s public seed regulatory services

On Feb 28, 2020, BENEFIT-ISSD held a half-day briefing on the major findings of an assessment conducted to better understand the Ethiopia public seed sector institutional and regulatory setup to respond to the specific needs of the sector in a more systematic and coordinated way.  The briefing was successful in creating a better understanding on the major regulatory functions of the public seed sector, review activities that are being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and other key actors, discuss major challenges and create a taskforce to oversee the coordination efforts towards improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector.  The briefing was attended by over 20 participants from Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), GIZ, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Ethiopia Seed Association (ESA), AGRA, and BENEFIT –ISSD staff members.

Following a welcome remark by Dr. Amsalu  Ayana, ISSD Manager, the opening remark was given by MoA Seed Regulatory Director General, Dr. Woldehawarit Assefa who talked about the newly approved seed policy that focuses on facilitating the inclusion of the private sector, variety protection, seed quality control, quarantine, coordination, etc. He acknowledged the valuable contribution of ISSD towards improving Ethiopia seed sector and expressed his hope that this meeting will lead to a more coordinated effort to strengthen and improve the current MoA seed regulatory efforts.

The presentation by Dr. Mohammed Hassana, ISSD Deputy Director, focused on data source and  methodology used, policies, laws, regulations and directives already in place, the seed regulatory structure at both federal and region levels and issues related to quality assurance, certification, protection of breeders rights, varieties release, quarantine, staffing (management and technical), branches and laboratories in the regions etc.

Following the presentation, the participants discussed level of autonomy that can be applied taking the strength of the current regulatory system into consideration; challenges related to certification process (lack of autonomy given to the seed producers, lack of private inspection system, limited access and capacity of existing laboratories); issues related to slow varieties release submitted by the private sector (high cost and capacity to perform trials by the government and research institutes); challenges in quality assurance that is mostly the responsibility of the government; quarantine issues (physical mobility, time constraint, lack of capacity, accountability and reliability and lack of accredited laboratory).

Some of the recommendation put forward included upgrading our existing laboratories to international standard; equipping and modernizing our quality assurance system; provision of service based on a cost recovery basis; building the capacity of the regulatory structure; starting a pilot for an independent variety testing service under MoA; and improving quarantine service for seed import and export etc.

It was noted that, a well-functioning regulatory seed sector is crucial to attract private companies and safe guard the interest of the farmer to access quality seed. This requires working on regulatory capacity of both the public and private systems and coordinate efforts of those supporting the sector.

A group exercise was conducted where each organization was given an opportunity to share their planned activities in relation to the five major functions of the regulatory system for the coming five year;   (i) variety release and registration; (ii) Protecting plant breeders rights; (iii) phytosanitary services; (iv) seed quality assurance; (v) issuing import and export permits.

At the end of the briefing, a taskforce to be led by the MoA Regulatory Directorate was formed to facilitate coordination efforts and monitor progress.  As the first secretariat to serve the taskforce, ISSD will develop a ToR that will guide the taskforce efforts.  The members include representative from ATA, AGRA, EKN, ESA, MoA and ISSD.

The meeting was facilitated by Joep van den Broek, Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR.

Transforming lives with improved seed varieties: lessons learned from ISSD Mekelle University

This briefing note summarizes the success and lessons learned in introducing new sorghum varieties through crowdsourcing/participatory varietal selection (CS/PVS) interventions and seed multiplication activities in Tigray. It is based on three-year experience of Integrated Seed Sector Development Programme in Ethiopia (ISSD Ethiopia) Mekelle University (MU).


Sorghum is a dominant food crop in Asgede Tsimbla Woreda. Prior to 2017, most farmers depended on local varieties that were handed down from farmer-to-farmer, mainly Merewey and Wedi subush. For years, due to the lack of attention given to strengthening the sorghum seed system and minimal effort into introducing new improved varieties, the farmers used low producing and late maturing varieties. The crop was also ignored by the formal research system especially in the north western lowlands of Asgede Tsimbla wereda.

Interventions implemented

In 2017, to better understand the social seed exchange networks embedded in the social system and resolve the pressing challenge in the sorghum production system, ISSD Mekelle University conducted a baseline study on farmers’ access to seed and role of local traders in seed market. The findings showed, a very intertwined seed exchange networks where farmers solely depended on each other to get information and access to quality seed and lack of access to better performing improved varieties.

Based on the recommendations of the study, ISSD MU used crowdsourcing and PVS approaches to facilitate variety deployment and enable farmers identify, use and access varieties that suit their micro climate or locality. CS/PVS approach is in essence a seed research and extension method that strengthens, promotes, and creates demand for new and improved varieties and ultimately increase adoption rate of quality seed. Gender mainstreaming was central in all planning and implementation stages resulting in 48% women farmers participating in crop and variety selection and deployment.

The activities started with awareness creation and building partnership with relevant key stakeholders to facilitate piloting and scaling up of CS/PVS approaches by Bureau of Agriculture (BOA) and Agricultural Research Centers (ARCs) in the region.

New, improved and popular local varieties of sorghum were deployed to 200 farmers in 2017, 400 farmers in 2018, and 350 farmers in 2019. Farmers evaluated the varieties on their farm plots and used both men and women traits preferences to make their selections. Field days were organized to facilitate varietal evaluations by farmers on PVS sites. The farmers ranked Melkam and Meko varieties the best for their early maturity partially addressing the drought issue in the area; good panicle size with high yield and productivity potential; strong short stalks that are wind resistant; shorter plant height easing labor during harvesting especially for women; quality sweet stock suitable for livestock feed; and good grain color and cooking quality (injera).

Following the increasing demand of the selected sorghum varieties, and convinced by the promising performance of Melkam, the Woreda office of agriculture (WoA) agreed to work in farmer clusters for wider area seed multiplication. ISSD in collaboration with the WoA facilitated access for improved Melkam variety and 125 quintals of seed was distributed to 1,224 (155 female) individual farmers for seed multiplication on a 1042 hectare of land.


Since 2017 as many as 25 sorghum varieties were deployed through CS/PVS interventions in Asgede Tsimbla wereda. They have adopted early maturing Melkam variety that brings high yield, easy to harvest, responsive to women needs, better in color and cooking quality. Farmers now own different varieties that respond to the climatic and agronomic demands of the area.

In addition, you see a significant shift from the traditional methods of accessing and using seeds. Farmers testimonies reveled that growing improved varieties is a new tradition and they have learned improved varieties mean better yield that can improve their livelihoods. They also acknowledged the value of engaging women in variety selection and the need to engage them in the seed system.


Some of the challenges encountered during the implementation period included limited number of varieties, lack of awareness on the CS/PVS implementation approaches, use of improper plot design and size, poor data collection and management, limited capacity by enumerators and focal persons.


The programme showcased the impact and reach of using CS/PVS as an extension model to increase adoption of improved varieties. With over 25 local varieties, Asgede Tsimbla is becoming a center of diversity for sorghum. Beyond sorghum, farmers now know the value of using improved crop variety seeds, creating new levels of demand for all crops.

Lessons learned and recommendations

  1. CS/PVS is a cost effective approach that is instrumental to promote and reach large number of farmers with many new and improved varieties in short period of time. The approach should be incorporated and institutionalized by the extension system with close collaboration with ARCs;
  2. With the right blend of extension approach and accessibility to new improved seed varieties, farmers are very willing to take up and adopt new varieties;
  3. CS/PVS varietal deployments enables farmers to experiment, evaluate, and identify the best fit varietal for their micro climate;
  4. Creation of seed demand through CS/PVS approach should be followed by coordinated seed multiplication efforts to encourage wider adoption and create sustainable seed source;
  5. To ensure success, interventions should include activities related to capacity building of farmers, experts and enumerators; ensure women are included at all levels of implementation; deploy as many varieties as possible and create linkage and create linkage with ARCs to alleviate the current seed supply shortage.

Improving the Performance of SPCs through Management and Governance Training

ISSD Mekelle University (MU) conducted a training for 30 Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) executive committees’ members and woreda and kebele experts, with an objective of enhancing their capacity in  cooperative governance and management. Noting the relevance of Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs), in quality seed production of improved and farmer preferred varieties, ISSD in Ethiopia works to improve the management, organizational skills, and technical knowledge of SPCs and strategically link them with relevant partners along the value chain.

A conceptual framework called ‘making seed producers autonomous’ was used to lead the presentations, exercises and discussion on leadership. Techniques used encouraged full participation, learning and experience sharing. Furthermore, exercises and assignments were provided to stimulate learning by doing.  Case studies were used to learn from successes and failure of sample SPCs.

The training covered core concepts on setting vision, goals and targets; identification of problems; SPCs problems alignment; case studies in individual farmers problem and linkage with business; value chains of seed production, marketing and management; cooperatives Sector Development Strategy in a view of Ethiopian context; governance; and financial management.

The training was effective in designing specific action plans to be implemented in the coming few months and ensure SPCs commitment to utilize the techniques  they learned from the training.

The training is intended to address challenges associated to governance and management of cooperative as well as creating smooth relationship with relevant partners and institutions. The participants included members  selected SPC’s who will work with ISSD in  2020.



The second phase of BENEFIT-ISSD (2016-2019) gave special attention to informal seed sector development. Within that context, enhanced empowerment of women in the access and use of quality seed of their preference at household and community level is one of the intermediary outcomes of BENEFIT-ISSD. To achieve this, BENEFIT-ISSD conducted several activities from 2016 to 2019. The attached briefing note “Women Empowerment in Informal Seed System Development” summarizes the activities implemented using crowdsourcing and Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) approaches and the findings of a study on the activities’ contribution towards women’s empowerment.

Awareness raising on seed sector transformation issues and strategies

On October 16, 2019, BENEFIT-ISSD held a one day workshop to share the views presented in “Transforming the Ethiopian Seed Sector: Issues and Strategies” document and explore ways to implement the different ideas and recommendations presented in the document. The meeting was attended by two Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) State Ministers, 21 experts representing three MoA seed related directorates (agricultural input marketing; variety release and inspection; plant quarantine) and 1 general director of extension. The meeting was relevant to raise awareness of the guiding document, ensure that the strategies become part of MoA annual plan and get the commitment of high level officials and experts to implement the strategies to transform each of the seed sector transformation pillars.

During the workshop, the different components of the guiding document were presented by three National Seed Advisory Group (NSAG) group members. The morning session was chaired by H.E. Mrs. Aynalem Nigusie, State Minister for Agricultural Input and Output Marketing Sector of MoA, while the afternoon session was chaired by H.E. Sani Redi, State Minister for Agricultural Development of MoA. Following the presentation the participants were organized in three groups to prepare short and long term plans to implement following the strategies presented in the guiding document. Outputs of the group discussions were presented in a plenary.

Both state ministers thanked the NSAG for preparing the strategy document and for organizing this workshop. The ministers also affirmed their willingness and commitments to institutionalize and implement the strategies in the coming two years and gave direction to the respective experts of the three directorates to finalize and present the proposed plans soon.

Fostering B2B relationships between SPCs and Unions

One of ISSD’s activities in 2019 focus on strengthening Business-to-Business (B2B) relations between Seep Producing Cooperatives (SPCs) and Unions to improve collaborative arrangements to enhance the delivery of quality and reliable seed in a market-oriented environment.

Accordingly, ISSD Amaha Unit together with Amhara Cooperative Promotion Agency (CPA) conducted an assessment on selected SPCs and Unions to identify major obstacles that hinder a conducive environment for better product and service delivery. The  assessment highlighted the main source of conflict were shortage of basic seed, late collection of seeds, late payment and lack of accountability. And major challenges relate to governance/decision making process, ownership, commitment, trust, conflict management, capacity /capability and unclear roles and responsibilities of stakeholders.

Following the assessment a two-day workshop was held, where the assessment results were presented and validated, critical challenges prioritized, and solutions proposed.  During the expert level consultation session, participants discussed on how to develop a strategic document and operational plan that includes methodologies to unlock indecision, strategies to build capacities of SPCs and unions and build a joint responsibility and accountability.

Oromia South West ISSD Programme unit also held a two day workshop with 26 participants representing  farmers unions,  SPCs including graduated LSBs, ATA, GIZ, ESA, Regional Bureau of Agriculture, Regional Cooperative Promotion Agency, OSE, woreda agriculture office and woreda cooperative promotion office. The purpose was to better understand gaps and challenges that hinder a collaborative arrangement in the seed business and identify strategic actions each key stakeholder can take to nurture the relationship between SPCs and unions. The workshop was valuable to identify and prioritize key challenges, and assign key responsibilities to start working on addressing the identified challenges in the coming season.


Consultative workshop towards institutionalization of ISSD major initiatives

Institutionalization and sustainability are important issues for any donor-funded programme that works to ensure success achieved during implementation continue beyond the life the project. In light of this, ISSD Amhara Unit organized a consultative workshop where Bahir Dar University high officials and regional seed core group members discussed major strategies to institutionalize ISSD’s best practices. The workshop was valuable to look at ways to embed the activities and approached of ISSD into the university outreach programme and discuss on major challenges to scale best practices achieved over the years.

The workshop was opened by Dr. Firew Tegengne, President of Bahir Dar University and Ato Tesfahun Tegene, BoA Deputy Head. In their remark, they appreciated major achievements of the programme on seed sector transformation and it effort to create a vibrant, pluralistic and market oriented seed sector.

Major issues discussed included documentation, scaling, and how to tie the projects lessons into the university community services. Overall, consensus was reached on embedding ISSD modalities & approaches of selected innovations, and strengthening the linkage with the university Research and Community Service and with faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

The participants were also given an opportunity to visit major achievements of Debretabor University and ISSD’s disease free seed potato minituber production. A total of 40 participants’ attended the workshop.

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.


Institutionalizing crowd sourcing (CS) and Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) in Amhara Region

Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) – Amhara Unit in Ethiopia held a one day workshop to promote institutionalization of Crowd Sourcing (CS) and Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) approaches in Amhara Region. Following its two years experiences in CS and PVS, the programme activities in 2019 focus on institutionalizing best practices and developing strategies towards sustainability and ownership. Overall the workshop was instrumental and a success to share ISSD two years experiences, provide intensive training on CS, PVS, gender and layout and design practice on ClimMob software, plan together next year’s CS and PVS, reach consensus built on the technical backstopping anticipated from ISSD and sign a memorandum of understanding with relevant stakeholders.

The strategy designed to guide the activities in the coming year was conducted with research center directors, university research and community vice presidents and BoA deputy heads and other relevant stakeholders.

Following presentations on CS and PVS experiences in 2017 and 2018, lessons learned and challenges encountered in the implementation process; an in-depth discussion was held on “how to institutionalization”. Even though there was great reluctance and reservations to continue CS and PVS without the support of ISSD, consensus was reached for ISSD and BoA to build on supporting the stakeholders through small grant and capacity building activities until they are capable to run the activities independently. Universities and research centers took the responsibility of cascading the activities with minimal support from ISSD until the end of this year. BoA also promised to support universities and research centers through uplifting CS activities into more woredas.

A memorandum of understanding between ISSD Amhara unit, research centers and universities was signed on next year’s CS and PVS activities.  Training was also provided by ISSD-Amhara unit and the Programmer Management Unit (PMU) on ClimMob software, CS, PVS and gender and how to design trails for university and research center focal persons.

At the end, ISSD assured it commitment to support facilitation and provide consultation while partners fully implement the planned activities. A total of 25 participants representing WoA, universities, research centers, BENEFIT projects attended the institutionalization workshop.

ISSD conducted its second writeshop to develop training manual on seed business management

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

Taking DSM from pilot to institutionalization in Ethiopia

BENEFIT-ISSD in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) held a half-day meeting to review successes achieved in Direct Seed Marketing (DSM) pilots, create a better understanding of the newly endorsed DSM directive and agree on way forward towards institutionalization. The meeting was held on March 21, 2019 at Bin hotel in Bishoftu. It was attended by over 40 participants representing high officials from MoA, Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) from four regional states (Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray), Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), public and private seed enterprises and ISSD staff from Addis Ababa.

ISSD’s effort on DSM started with a pilot in two woredas and two seed producing companies in 2011. Eight years later, in collaboration with ATA the effort has reached 228 woredas, serving 1.4 million farmers, accounting for 60% of 2018 seed sells  in the country, with support of 1400 seed marketing agents. For 2019, the projection is to add 160 woredas bringing the total number of DSM implementing woredas to 350.

Considering the life of the pilot, the number of woredas covered, successes achieved and the recent endorsement of the seed market directive, all agreed the next phase is to raise awareness of the directives and make it operational at regional level towards institutionalization of the concept of seed marketing.

Following three presentations by ATA and ISSD, the plenary discussion led by H.E. Ayinalem Nigussie, State Minister of MOA and Seifu Assefa Agricultural Input Marketing Directorate, Director focused on the directive, role of MoA and RoA, governance, finance, resource and capacity.

The meeting ended with remark from H.E. Ayinalem who thanked ISSD and ATA for their continuous effort in promoting seed marketing, and ISSD for organizing this meeting to take the institutionalization process one step further. She noted that even though the successes achieved so far are very encouraging, we need to ensure the institutionalization process is a success to bring systematic and sustainable change.


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

Focusing on gender, nutrition and seed system for food and nutrition security

Participants in gender and nutrition training


BENEFIT-ISSD  Tigray organized a training of trainers (TOT) on gender and nutrition for 35  regional and woreda level stakeholders from October 17 -18,2017 in Mekele University . The objective of the TOT was to supplement  gender and nutrition knowledge of the experts in seed system,  which in return contribute to the capacity development initiatives .

Major topics covered during the training were basic concepts of gender, gender as development issue, gender mainstreaming, concept and tools of gender analysis and  gender in project cycle management in gender part. Likewise, health and agriculture linkage, agricultural growth, food and nutrition security, nutrition sensitive agriculture and malnutrition were covered in nutrition part.

Professor Fetien Abay, the scientific coordinator of ISSD Tigray, introduced participants the necessity of ISSD implementation in Tigray region. Accordingly, she said that ISSD always gave priority to farmer based seed system especially in the normally neglected crops like sorghum, the most staple grain all over the region, to achieve food security and then to fulfill the demands of nutrition. Moreover, she presented her research based professional experiences about local crop variety breeding and the nutritious potential they have.

In addition, she said “as ISSD Tigray, we have established about 60 seed producer cooperatives (SPCs) all over the region. These SPCs have so many contributions to nutrition and food security achievements. Our main focus therefore is gender, nutrition and farmer based seed system provision.”

The TOT  was opened by Ato Beshir Ahmed, ISSD Tigray unit manager and he said that multiplication of quality seed, improved and farmer preferred varieties is crucial since seed is the base for food and nutriton security.

The training participants were composed of regional level women’s affairs, experts of BENEFIT Partnership programs based in Tigray  and Tigray region bureau of agriculture and rural development  woreda level focal persons .

Contributed by : BENEFIT-ISSD Tigray


BENEFIT-ISSD Oromia East unit organized a seminar on Ethiopian Seed Regulation to create awareness for seed value chain actors and stakeholders on Ethiopian Seed strategy, policy, and regulation on July 31,2017 at Ras Hotel, Harar City. The seminar has also objectives aimed at enforcing implementation of seed policy and regulation, designing solutions for current challenges in seed production, certification, distribution, and use in Hararghe Zones and clarifying roles and responsibilities of actors and stakeholders involved in seed value chain.

Vibrant seed sector demands enforcing seed sector governing regulations to ensure proper implementation of roles and responsibilities among seed value chain actors in the seed sector. To ensure quality seed production, certification and marketing seed value chain actors should develop clear knowledge on seed production and marketing regulations.

A total of 28 participants from Research Centers, Universities, Farmers’ Cooperative Unions, Seed Producers’ cooperatives (SPCs), Ministry of Agriculture, Oromia and Zone Bureau of agriculture and Natural resource, Agricultural Transformation Agency, and media organizations participated on the seminar.

Opening the seminar, Dr. Mangistu Ketema, Director for Research, Extension and Publication at Haramaya University Research Office said that “seed value chain linkage in Hararghe is very weak and needs urgent intervention.” He noted that ISSD project is working in raising awareness of the problem and the University is contributing its share by establishing seed certification and quality testing Centre through the support of Oromia BOA. For institutionalizing the center further, seed value chain stakeholders need to work together.

On the occasion invited experts from Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) presented discussion papers on Ethiopian Seed Proclamation, regulation on Quality Declared Seed (QDS) and regulations on service fee. Seed sector development and challenges in Oromia and Harerghe zones were also presented to participants by experts from Oromia BoA and ISSD Oromia East Unit.

Participants raised various challenges during discussion on basic seed, seed certification, marketing and linkage among stakeholders in the value chain that reinforced the contents of the presentations.

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More that 600 participants at BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia field days in SNNPR

BENEFIT-ISSD organized field days in two of SNNPR woredas, Derashe & Kedida Gambela. The field day attracted more than 600 participants which were drawn from farmers project area, other villages, zonal heads of sector offices, technical staffs and project staffs were participants of the field days. The welcoming speeches of all the field days were conducted by Heads BoANR and BENEFIT-ISSD Scientific Coordinator.  The field days were organized to last for six consecutive days, from August 10 -15, 2017.

BENEFIT–ISSD has been organizing field days for a range of participants at its sites, research kebeles and uses it as good extension approach to address the community’s problem. The four project kebeles (Atena, haibena, taza gereba and jore) were selected for this field day since the new BENEFIT-ISSD initiative in informal seed system has been implemented on those Kebeles and to share lessons learned from project implementation.

Strengthening informal seed systems: 5 crops – 33 varieties

BENEFIT-ISSD initiated to support the informal seed system with a focus of creating access to farmers preferred crop varieties, improve role of women farmers in variety selection, seed production, management and improve nutrition. Moreover, the ISSD/SNNPR focuses in supporting the system on deploying many varieties through participatory variety selection trial (PVS) and crowd Sourcing (CS).

Currently, five (5) crops; sorghum, haricot bean, teff, finger-millet, and faba bean were selected as priority and for start-up in the system. These crops were identified during a focused group discussion (FGD) which was held in 2016. So far, more than thirty-three (33) varieties have been accessed from different sources and injected in the system.

Training to support participatory variety selection and crowd-sourcing 

To accelerate the output on the system training have been done on designing and implementing participatory varietal selection trials (CS & PVS), mainstreaming gender, principles of agricultural experimental designs, and a review on Ethiopian seed system performance. Woreda agriculture office has taken the mandate of identifying and selecting operation sites. Twelve (12) beneficiary groups in six (6) woredas established and developed group guideline, awareness created on crowd sourcing and access varieties of different crops for CS & PVS trials in selected woredas.

As a follow up to this, the project practices recommended agricultural approaches to achieve the desire objectives in the sector. Field day is the one which plays a great role and proved a strong mechanism for cross-project learning as they have engaged farmers, extension, NGOs, Universities, market dealers, industries and other value chain actors across the whole project stakeholder spectrum.

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