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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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”.
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)