Farmer’s access to seed of superior quality is needed to increase agricultural productivity, resilience, and food security in West and Central Africa. Evaluation of Phase II of the CCRP-funded seed systems project has shown that a paradoxical situation has evolved: farmer organizations are producing and marketing seed of new sorghum varieties and high yielding hybrids, with seed volumes doubling annually, but most seed is sold in bulk to seed enterprises, emergency projects or NGO’s that may distribute seed for free in other regions, often without the necessary information about the new varieties. At the same time, local seed dissemination in the target areas of the farmer cooperatives and unions appears to be relatively low.
Efforts to strengthen seed systems in the region have typically focused on either cereals or legumes, but not on both together. But seeds of legume species and varieties, especially those that are used for integrated Striga management or in nutrition training programs, are of increasing importance for local seed producers, and for enhancing the sustainability of seed businesses and seed systems.
This women-inclusive project seeks to develop farmer-managed seed initiatives in Mali and Burkina Faso for wide-scale awareness about, and use of, superior farmer-preferred sorghum and priority legume varieties in the areas where the seed is produced, and thus serving local farmers and creating a sustainable market for improved seed. Major contributions from social scientists on aspects of communication, gender, and institutional management will complement the previous efforts related to breeding and agronomy. Guided self-diagnostics of each participating cooperative, participatory monitoring, evaluation and co-learning are expected to inform also other seed-related initiatives in the region.
Outputs and Outcomes:
The project is expected to:
Identify institutional and social measures that contribute to strengthening farmer-managed seed enterprises
Develop tools and approaches for marketing and communication that enable farmer-managed seed enterprises to enhance uptake of their seed
Enhance understanding of gender-relevant consequences resulting from the dissemination of specific new cultivars of sorghum in the target regions