Through a USAID and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) partnership, Africa Lead is addressing the longstanding problem of severe shortages of improved varieties and high quality seed in African agriculture. Insufficient supplies of early generation seeds (EGS) significantly inhibits the growth of agricultural production, productivity, and incomes for small holder farmers in Africa, the majority of whom subsist in informal agriculture sectors.
In 2015, USAID and BMGF oversaw the development of a methodology to examine and analyze the seed value chains for specific crops in country market settings. The objective was to identify the policy, regulatory, and technical constraints to expanding the supply of EGS. In 2016, an Africa Lead sub-contractor, Context Network, applied this methodology in 4 country studies: Rwanda, Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria.
The EGS studies were carried out by national researchers with expert mentoring and supervision provided by Context Network. They were implemented collaboratively with the respective USAID Missions and with national public and private stakeholders who are forming “seed platforms” for future investment to break the constraints. Each study recognizes that needs and utilization will be shaped by gender differentiated roles in crop production, processing and trade (both formal and cross border). The Context Network’s country studies aim to better understand farmer requirements (i.e., demand), independent of the policy and technical parameters affecting EGS supplies.