Jan 2021

Dear friends,“Because all farmers deserve good seed” – that was the tagline that launched a new organization in January 2019, and which remains Seed Systems Group’s credo today.Implicit in the assertion was that anyone who makes their living by growing more food for a hungry world is serving a vital purpose – is an “essential worker” in today’s parlance – and merits our support. We may not be able to do much else to assist them in their labors, but if someone in today’s world of growing populations and rapidly changing climatic conditions is willing to invest their time, money, and hard work in growing a needed food crop, then the least we can do is try to ensure they have access to good seed.The emphasis on all farmers stemmed from the little-known fact that whole populations of smallholder farmers in Africa still cannot access seed of improved, adapted crop varieties. As a result, they are harvesting a fraction of the food they could be with the same level of effort and impact on the environment. And that’s not fair, or good for our planet. The lack of access to higher-yielding, climate-resilient seed is a root cause of malnutrition, poverty, and environmental degradation. Yet despite the great progress being made in some African countries, an estimated 40 million farmers in Africa live in countries where there is still no alternative to planting seed of low-yielding, local varieties.Working with Cornell University and Sathguru Consulting, in November 2020, SSG completed its 15th national seed systems feasibility study, in Cameroon, thereby fulfilling its goal of creating a master plan for extending the benefits of improved seed to Africa’s main agricultural countries that have so far been left behind. Final touches are being made to the plan now.To shine a light on these countries and their farmers, SSG is this month launching a newsletter dedicated to informing the world on what is happening in the part of Africa where most farmers are still struggling to feed themselves and their families without the benefit of improved seed and related agricultural technologies. We hope our readers will find the newsletter useful and look forward to learning along with you what can be done to change this reality.

Joe DeVries Ph.D
President, Seed Systems Group

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