Informing Research on Integrated Seed System Development

The FAC Science, Technology and Innovation Theme carried out two phases of research in five countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe) on the ‘Political Economy of Cereal Seed Systems in Africa’, from which 10 FAC Working Papers were produced (two for each country), as well as a special issue of the IDS Bulletin on the ‘Politics of Seed in Africa’s Green Revolution’ (July 2011) and six FAC Policy Briefs (five country papers and an overview). These have attracted attention from a variety of key actors working on seed R&D policy in Africa, including the FAO Seed and Plant Genetic Resources Group of the Plant Production and Protection Division, among others.

The FAC STI Team co-hosted and presented findings from their seed studies at two key regional conferences – the International Conference on Sustainable Seed Systems in Ethiopia (June 2011) and the International Conference on Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services in Kenya (Nov 2011). At those events, they met colleagues from the Centre for Genetic Resources (CGN) and the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) at Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, and Self-Help Africa (SHA), a UK NGO, who expressed considerable interest in FAC’s seeds research. They have since drawn on those findings to inform their development of a regional programme on ‘Integrated Seed System Development’ (ISSD), in association with the AU-African Seed and Biotechnology Programme and the Dutch Government.

In February 2012, representatives of the Wageningen programmes and SHA approached the FAC STI Seeds team about collaborating on a second phase of research and policy engagement on ISSD and seed entrepreneurship which would cover 8 countries in Africa. FAC would contribute its political economic analysis and research inputs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia and facilitate links with CAADP at a regional level as part of this work. Preliminary agreement was reached on this arrangement and a meeting was set for late April 2012 to formalise the partnership between CGN, CDI, SHA and FAC’s STI Team.