Food security in Africa demands the availability of high-quality seeds to achieve high crop productivity. However, this has remained a pipe-dream within Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) despite the region having huge potential to maximise its agricultural productivity.
As a result, farmers experience a shortage of high-quality seeds during planting season, increasing the temptation of recycling saved seeds, or buying fake varieties from unscrupulous traders.
The re-use of low-yielding farm saved seeds makes it impossible for smallholder farmers to improve their yield. This scenario has led to farmers in SSA suffering lower rates of production, consequently, impacting on food security and income generation at household levels.
The Access to Seeds Index 2019 report revealed that less than 10 percent of the world’s smallholder farmers have access to the improved, quality seeds that can halt hunger and tolerate the impacts of climate change.
The report further notes that enhancing smallholder access to a wide range of affordable quality seed of high performance, as well as locally suited improved crop varieties, is critical if farmers are to improve their productivity and reduce their vulnerability in the face of the challenges that inhibit increased agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, including new pests and diseases, climate change and natural resource limitations.
“Smallholder farmers often struggle to access cutting-edge seed varieties, partly because seed companies in the region are hindered by market inefficiencies and are themselves unable to access new varieties and technologies,” the report noted.
Though an increasing number of seed companies have been launched on the continent over the last decade, not all have been able to invest in breeding new varieties locally for the benefit of farmers, but they continue to take up and market varieties coming out of the general breeding channels.
Many players in the seed value chain have identified lack of quality seeds as one of the most pressing issues hindering productivity increase in Africa.
Access to foundation seed is the key
Improving productivity all starts with the availability of parent or foundation seed to local seed companies so that they can produce certified seed to be sold to farmers. Access to foundation seeds in a country will help the seed companies to meet their sales targets, and to ensure that the output of both public and private breeding programmes gets to the farmer on his farm. This is the key to address the issue of poor seed quality.
To benefit from these opportunities, QualiBasic Seed Company (QBS), a seed company established by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), is filling a major gap that will now allow African farmers access to new, improved crop varieties produced by national breeding programmes; as well as access to parent or foundation seed used by local seed companies to produce ample, affordable supplies of certified seed.
QBS serves as a bridge between the innovations produced by crop breeders working with national and international research programmes and the local seed companies that make them available to African farmers.
The company supplies seed companies with high-quality foundation seed to ensure the product sold to African farmers retains all the desirable traits, like disease and drought resistance and higher yields, that the breeders have worked hard to achieve.
QBS supplies high quality foundation seed with high genetic integrity, phyto-sanitary security, and industry-leading seed quality standards to seed companies, as well as the technical support to help seed companies with production and marketing of their certified seed.
When certified seed is produced from quality foundation seed, it means that the end product that gets to farmers will deliver the intended genetic gain – meaning the farmer will reap the full value intended by the breeder with improved yield and quality, which will in turn contribute significantly to increased agricultural productivity and food security.
For more information please contact us on (+254-73-363-1118, +254-72-397-7793 – Kenya), (+260-96-074-8307 – Zambia) or e-mail Info@Qualibasicseed.com or contact Sandra Alai on +254-78-555-1529 or Sandra@Qualibasicseed.com.