SSG Establishes Regional Office in Lomé, Togo

Above:  Julien Amouzou, CEO of Le Paysan Seed Company of Togo, discussing production of improved rice variety, ‘Jasmine 85’ on his seed production farm near Sotouboua, Togo

Farmers in West and Central Africa face serious challenges in securing a good harvest, including uncertain rains, low natural soil fertility, and a historical lack of breeding efforts aimed at their unique agro-ecologies.  Insecurity in several countries has likewise delayed progress.  However, recent advances by national crop breeding teams and CGIAR centers have yielded exciting results in the development of improved varieties of most of West Africa’s major food crops.

Equally important, several West African countries have established emerging seed sectors supported by government agencies for crop research, extension, and regulatory services.  This marks a critical shift in prospects for agriculture in West Africa which deserves urgent international support.  Seed Systems Group (SSG) aims to build on this momentum in West Africa by helping national scientists, seed companies, and extension services to quickly identify the best varieties, scale up seed supply, and create farmer awareness of the value of higher-yielding seed.

Towards this end, SSG recently established a regional office in Lomé, Togo, to serve seed sector development in West and Central Africa. The five-person SSG team, led by SSG Vice-President, Dr Issoufou Kapran, is spearheading seed systems initiatives in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, covering a wide range of crops.

SSG chose Lomé for its regional office due to its central location, our strong Togo country team, and the highly favorable work environment. The support for our work from the Government of the Togolese Republic has been excellent. The Government of Togo is highly committed to developing its private seed sector. In 2018, the Government donated three mobile seed processing units to private companies as a means of increasing supply of improved seed. The Seeds and Plants Department (DSP) maintains a team of seed inspectors to provide field certification inspections and operates a seed laboratory to conduct seed analyses.

Nevertheless, production of certified seed in Togo – approximately 2,500 tons annually – remains insufficient to supply the needs of the country’s estimated 1 million farmers.  Hence, SSG is providing support to Togolese seed companies such as Le Paysan, DOMAH Seed Company, and Talipak Seed Company to increase the supply quality seed of improved varieties of rice, maize, sorghum, cowpea, and groundnut.  SSG also supports Togo’s public research institute, ITRA, to test and release new, high-yielding varieties of these crops.  This work is funded by AGRA and IDRC.

SSG is excited about its new regional office in Lomé, as it signifies a determined thrust to bring the life-giving force of high-yielding, climate resilient seed to the farmers of neglected countries and communities of West and Central Africa.

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