The Seed Systems Group works to establish regular, dependable supply of high-yielding, resilient seed of a wide range of food crops among poor, smallholder farmers to help them improve their crop yields, nutritional status, and income. The Seed Systems Group is a non-profit organization registered in the United States and headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.
Our Practice AreasEvery farmer needs good seed
Rapidly growing populations and a changing climate contribute to widespread child malnutrition and frequent social unrest in rural areas of Africa, and are placing ever-greater pressure on farmers to improve their harvests.
Providing them with access to seed of improved crop varieties bred for higher yields and resistance to climate change, pests and diseases is a proven solution. Improved seed allows farmers to increase their productivity and makes cropping systems more sustainable in the context of a growing world population.
Unfortunately, a large portion of Africa’s poorest farmers who are most in need of better seed don’t have access to it. It simply isn’t available in the rural villages and towns where they live. As a result, their crop yields remain at a fraction of what they could achieve with better seed.
Approximately 38 million farmers live in 15 African countries where there is virtually no access to seed of improved crop varieties, including Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Guinea, Madagascar, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
These countries are home to 315 million people where the average rate of child malnutrition is 38 percent. With current population growth rates of 2.8 percent annually, their total population is projected to grow to over 700 million by 2050. With no access to improved seed, the farmers of these countries have little chance of increasing their productivity beyond current, subsistence levels which guarantee lives of poverty and economic exclusion.
It does not have to be this way. Experience in numerous countries of Africa has shown that farmers can reverse decades of declining productivity through the cultivation of higher-yielding, more resilient seed.
Educating plant breeders who can breed and evaluate new crop varieties is critical to Africa’s emerging Green Revolution. Hundreds of new, higher-yielding and cllimate-resilient crop varieties have already been developed by Africa’s public crop breeders and are being grown by farmers to increase food supply. These and many more will be required to fill in the gaps in the new countries. SSG will work to identify and educate crop breeders at leading African universities on crop breeding issues of importance to local farmers.
SSG will provide technical and financial assistance to public and other institutions engaged in crop breeding and crop variety testing in order to achieve official release of new crop varieties via the procedures established for this purpose according to the laws and policies of the country, with the aim of making improved, higher-yielding crop varieties available for seed multiplication and distribution to poor, smallholder farmers.
Establishment and growth of private and public seed enterprises – SSG will provide technical and financial assistance to local, start-up and early-stage seed enterprises to increase the supply of affordable seed of improved, higher-yielding crop varieties among poor, smallholder farmers, allowing these farmers to produce greater amounts of nutritious food to their families, communities, and nations.
SSG will provide technical and financial assistance to identify and train village-based entrepreneurs in the business of supplying affordable seed and other yield-enhancing inputs, allowing them to open sales shops and inform farmers on how to use the products.
Private sector-led extension
Agricultural extension and promotion of improved crop varieties – SSG will provide technical and financial assistance to public and private entities for the purpose of informing and educating poor, smallholder farmers regarding the value of improved seed, improved crop production practices, and the use of fertilizers, manures, and other yield-enhancing inputs;
Seed supply by private seed companies is often limited by seed policies which are in need of reform to allow greater freedom by the private sector to access, produce, and distribute quality seed of new crop varieties. SSG works with governments to identify and enact policies which allow greater access by smallholder farmers to improved seed. In addition, by empowering local, private seed companies and input suppliers, SSG helps to give them a stronger voice in local seed markets.
One key to our learning so much in Chad was first connecting with Dr. Diego Boilengar. Dr. Boilengar is a former university lecturer in Germany, specialized in agricultural enterprise development. He was serving as a special advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, and from the moment I cold-called him from Nairobi one day in May,October 15, 2019
I was introduced to the Ministry of Agriculture of Niger by my great friend and longtime colleague, Dr. Issoufou Kapran. He put me in contact with Mr. Boukari Diamoitou Nguessibo, the Secretary General of the Ministry. I flew into Niamey’s brand new, and very impressive, international airport, and met with Mr. Diamoitou and the headOctober 14, 2019
Arriving in Benin’s capital of Cotonou on a Sunday, I didn’t really know what to expect. Like many international agronomists working in Africa, I’d spent a lot of time in neighboring Nigeria, and lived for several years in Ghana, but Benin – the former Dahomey – had always remained outside my travel itineraries. What aOctober 11, 2019