Delegates at the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Africa Synthesis Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya have called on African governments to act fast in a bid to revamp the continent’s seed sector for increased agricultural productivity.

This was contained in a press release signed by Angeline Wafula, the ISSD Africa Network and Communications Facilitator, at the end of the conference. ISSD Africa is coordinated by the Centre of Development Innovation (CDI) of Wageningen University and Research Centre (Wageningen UR), the Royal Tropical Institute Kit, and the Future Agricultures Consortium and is hosted in Nairobi by Egerton University’s Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.

According to the press release, experts drawn from academia, government and the private sector said that a vibrant seed sector will help Africa improve food and nutrition security.

Richard Lesiyampe, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, while addressing participants at the conference, urged African agricultural experts to take action in implementing the laid down policies and research findings that will help promote the seed sector. “The growth of agriculture in Africa is highly dependent on a vibrant seed sector,” he said.

Experts, according to the press release, stated that building market oriented and dynamic seed sector that promotes access to high quality seeds will also help the continent implement The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. The experts also noted that a focus on entrepreneurship and market-orientation will capture smallholder farmers as important users and drivers of the seed value chain.

The experts in earlier submissions had stated that the Pilot Phase of ISSD Africa had worked on the establishment of an African-embedded structure and network of experts, seed programs, and associated organizations in the public and private sectors. The aim is to work on complex challenges that are of strategic importance to the development of a market oriented, pluralistic, vibrant, and dynamic seed sector in Africa.

The seed sector in Africa, the experts note, is experiencing myriad of challenges such as access to quality seeds and inadequate funding and budgetary allocations. Since its launch in 2014, the ISSD Africa project has tackled four key challenges: how to promote seed entrepreneurship; how to increase access to varieties in the public domain; how to match global commitments with national realities and how to support seed sector development under CAADP.

According to Kouame Mieza, the executive director of Africa Seeds, who lauded the project for its design with a focus on diverse farmer needs across the African continent, ‘The overall goal is to contribute to increased food and nutrition security and to poverty alleviation in Africa through the establishment of effective and efficient seed systems.”

The experts shared their experience on lessons learned and also developed frameworks for follow up in a potential subsequent phase of the programme.