Intergrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD)


The Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) programme in Ethiopia: Overview

The ISSD Ethiopia programme is implemented by a consortium of partners including four universities (Bahir Dar, Haramaya, Hawassa, and Mekelle), Oromia Seed Enterprise, Ethiopian Seed Producers and Growers’ Association, and Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) of Wageningen University and Research Centre. The programme is implemented in four regions (Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and SNNPR) of the country in collaboration with several partners at national, regional, and local levels. The financial support is from the Government of The Netherlands through its Royal Embassy in Addis Ababa.

The first phase of the ISSD programme was implemented from 2009 to 2011 mainly through the LSB (Local Seed Business) project, where 34 Seed Producers’ Cooperatives (SPCs), under the LSB scheme, the LSB farmer groups have been supported to become technically better equipped and more commercial in their seed production and marketing efforts, as well as to become more autonomous in their operations in the seed sector.

The ISSD Ethiopia phase II programme was launched in January 2012 with the vision of a vibrant and pluralistic seed sector development, quality seed of superior varieties are available and affordable to a larger number of farmers, thereby contributing to agriculture for food security and economic development in the country.

Components of ISSD Ethiopia Programme phase-II

The objective of the ISSD programme phase II is to strengthen the development of a vibrant, market oriented and pluralistic seed sector in Ethiopia. The programme follows the ISSD development principles in targeting its activities at specific sectors, including local seed businesses (LSBs), private seed producers (operating at a regional scale) and seed companies (operating at a national scale), but also promoting institutional innovation in the sector through partnerships components. In addition, the programme supports services addressing different sectors, including research and studies, sharing experiences and lessons learnt, and capacity development. Furthermore, the implementation of enabling support of policy frameworks is supported (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Components of the ISSD Ethiopia programme phase-II

Components of the ISSD

Haramaya University (HU)-ISSD Oromia East programme at a glance

Oromia East ISSD Programme is one of the arms of the project hosted by Haramaya University working in the region (East and West Hararghe Zones of Oromia National Regional State) to promote entrepreneurship at local levels in the seed sector, thereby increasing farmers’ access to and availability of quality and quantity seed at affordable prices in the region. In the second phase of the ISSD programme, it was planned to scale up the number of LSBs through local partnership arrangements with different organizations operating in the region in one way or another way working with seed sector related activities. Accordingly, the programme has been supporting SPCs in collaboration with different stakeholders, namely, woreda agricultural development and cooperative promotion offices, research centres, Unions, agricultural colleges and NGOs. The stakeholders have been supporting the SPCs in accessing basic seed, strengthening their organisational capacity, infrastructure facilities like offices, stores, office facilities, in providing the farmer groups with farm tools and implements, machinery, technical supports, market information, and seed marketing skills. Currently, more than 40 SPCs have been established in the region by HU-ISSD programme and scaling up partners (Table 1).

Table 1: Summary of established SPCs by location

Implementers No of LSB sites /PAs No of woredas No of farmers in the SPCs Crop No of varieties
Total M F F (%)
ISSD-HU 5 5 401 353 48 11.97 5 12
HU-Research 9 6 408 312 96 23.53 4 5
HU-CAiLR 8 5 1176 1064 112 9.53 5 8
FARC 8 3 935 718 217 23.21 4 5
McARC 3 3 120 119 1 0.83 2 2
KATVET College 3 2 375 350 25 6.67 3 4
Chercher Odabultum Union 5 2 763 657 106 13.89 3 4
CARE-East Hararghe Office 3 1 176 111 65 36.9 2 4
Total 42 18 4354 3684 670 15.38 10 24

The key partners engaged in LSB scaling up include HU-Research and Extension Office, HU-College of Agro-industry and Land Resource (CAiLR), Fedis and Mechara agricultural research centres (FARC & McARC), Kombolcha ATVET College, Chercher Oda Bultum and Care East Hararghe field office.

The majority of the established SPCs have started production and marketing of seeds of different crops and varieties. Volume of seed produced by the SPCs are also increasing from year to year and contributing Significantly to the region’s seed demand.

Figure 2: Seed production trends by SPCs from 2010-2013 in west and East Hararghe Zones.

Seed production trends by SPCs from 2010-2013

The ISSD programme aims also at strengthening small and medium-scale private seed producers, supporting their establishment and operations, and enhancing capacity building through promoting public private partnerships. However, the involvement of the private sector in seed business in the region has remained miniscule. Nevertheless, on the basis of assessment of the potential agribusiness firms, two private seed producers, which were supposed to be competent and having the capacity to grow and diversify seed businesses, were selected. They have started seed businesses through technical supports provided by the programme. The key problem associated with the private seed producers entering to the seed business is lack of necessary quality control mechanism, which depends on outside support for production techniques, start up support, quality assurance body, market linkage, etc. Therefore, newly established private seed producers often need reassurances and support in the early stages by both technical and seed policy related issues.

Under the partnership and innovation project component, the ISSD programme aims at developing a mechanism with institutionalised regional coordinating bodies to facilitate innovations and learning in the seed sector related challenges beyond the local level. The process itself develops and consolidates clear roles, responsibilities, and task divisions among seed sector stakeholders. Major innovative projects currently under implementation include: experimentation with post-harvest seed processing technologies for enhancing quality seed production; institutionalisation of seed quality advisory services at HU; establishing cooperative-based seed education and extension system; enhancing availability of Hararghe specialty coffee seedlings through farmer-participatory variety selection (PVS); and production of early generation seeds (EGS). The leading partners for the implementation of these projects are Fedis Agricultural Research Centre (FARC), Mechara Agricultural Research Centre (MCARC), Haramaya University, Kombolcha ATVET, and Unions in East and West Hararghe Zones.

The Knowledge Sharing and Capacity Development component (KSCD) has been mandated to facilitate knowledge sharing and lessons learnt through different communication strategies to partners and stakeholders at local, regional and, national levels. Accordingly, activities of the ISSD programme especially those associated with SPCs in seed business have been intensively promoted through diverse communication channels including, publications, radio and television, seed exhibitions, mini-media, farmers’ field days, travel visits, website, social media and others.

To generate evidence-based solutions to the challenges facing the seed sector, the programme has been also conducting research through funding PhD, MSc and BSc students at LSBs sites in the region. The themes of research underway include but are not limited to seed marketing and organizational performances of seed producers, participatory variety selection, impact of quality seed on production, productivity and livelihoods of farmers, demand assessment of improved seed, and financial performance and technical efficiency of SPCs and related topics.

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