Category Archives: ISSD news

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.

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