Seed systems II

Lead Organization:

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics - ICRISAT Mali

Partner Organizations:


Community of Practice:

West Africa


Burkina Faso Niger Mali




This project is implemented by a consortium of partners including ICRISAT Mali, ICRISAT Niger, INERA, IER and INRAN together with Farmers’ organizations in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. It focuses on participatory sorghum and pearl millet breeding activities to identify new and diverse varieties. During its first phase (2005-2009), the project was able to show that these varieties are being adopted by farmers in the project areas and beyond. The project also demonstrated through an initial assessment in Mali that adoption of sorghum varieties is not primarily through formal seed systems supported by commercialization efforts. It was rather through farmer managed trials, with diffusion to other households in the same or even more distant villages occurring through social networks. The initial studies conducted during the first phase also showed that women are mostly excluded from this type of informal seed exchange.

During the current second phase, the project works to strengthen the capacities of local seed initiatives by building on previous efforts such as improved seed business management skills, pursuing new approaches to systematically involve women in all seed activities and working with a range of communication tools strengthening farmer organization’s capabilities to use the results of farmer managed trials.

The project will also develop method(s) to evaluate varieties for new traits of particular importance to farmers, such as food yield from a given quantity of grain. The project also initiates specific studies to improve the understanding of changes in farmer seed systems due to project activities.

Grant Aims:

Improve farmers’ access to seed of new sorghum and pearl millet varieties in targeted regions of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.Understand and enhance the effectiveness of different activities for enhancing seed availability and knowledge about the new varieties.

Outputs and Outcomes:

  • The most important outcome from this project would be improved farmer access to improved, quality seed of new varieties of sorghum and pearl millet. Women’s access in particular would be enhanced.
  • A second outcome would be improved knowledge of informal, socially based systems of seed production and diffusion. The lessons learned from these project activities should contribute to improved seed availability in the target areas as well as neighboring countries for not only sorghum and pearl millet, but other crops as well.
  • A third outcome would be further support of development of the private sector in agricultural inputs, because there would be a viable, FO-based system of providing quality foundation seed to private companies.