Category Archives: ISSD news

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.


« Older Entries