There is no greater blessing than giving birth. When a new life comes into existence, as people we rejoice. In some cultures, especially in Africa, the whole community is so happy they make a feast to celebrate the new life. By the same token it’s such a joy to see the birth of seed enterprises in the African continent, especially to smallholder farmers.
In his opening remarks, Robert Guei, Secretary of the Committee on Agriculture and Senior Technical Office, FAO, gave us some historical background and the current situation in the seed industry in Africa. He explained that seeds constitute the farmers’ precious resource and a very particular agricultural product. Seeds form the basis for food and nutrition security in Africa and indeed, all over the world. Unfortunately, in Africa, performance of seeds so far has been unsatisfactory. This is due to the fact that after independence, most African countries’ seed sector development was handled by parastatal enterprises.
In the absence of the private sector, government invested heavily in producing seed of their food security crops. The structural adjustment policies of the 1980 forced governments to abandon seed production and distribution. This was done without considering difficulties for the private sector to assume responsibility for producing the less profitable seeds of food security crops. Despite the fact that many countries have encouraged privatization in one way or another and withdrawn from commercial seed production, overall, private businesses did not fill the gap left by governments. 90% of crops grown in Africa are grown from farm-saved seeds.
Currently big companies concentrate more on big farmers with larger demands for seeds, especially hybrid maize and vegetable seed. They often ignore seed production with thin profit margins and where proprietary laws are missing or not enforced. They trade in high value crops seeds.
In the absence of big enterprises in producing and marketing all African seed crops, a viable solution would be smallholder seed enterprises. They provide a unique opportunity for non-hybrid, local and regional crops which big enterprises are not interested in.
Read the full post on the CFS blog here.
This blogpost covers the CFS44 side event “Strengthening Small-holder seed Enterprises for Food, Nutrition and Income Security”
Blogpost by Kenanao Moabi, #CFS44 Social Reporter – kenanaomoabi(at)gmail.com
Photo Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)
This post is part of the live coverage during the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, a social media project supported by GFAR. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.