The seed sector in Ethiopia is growing, however it faces limitations in export trade, private sector inclusion and dominance of government owned national and regional seed enterprises in the sector. Africa Lead facilitated a one-day seed stakeholders meeting on 2 May 2018 at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss how to improve private sector participation in seed trade in the country. Thirty-one stakeholders representing seed companies, agriculture research organizations, national and regional seed enterprises, development agencies, implementing partners, USAID Ethiopia Mission, Ethiopia Agricultural Transformation Agency and Africa Lead staff attended.
The objective of the meeting was to initiate dialogue between private seed companies, government entities and development programs, on how best to improve participation of and expand opportunities for seed companies in Ethiopia. Prior to the meeting, Africa Lead conducted a one-week consultation to identify key issues in the seed sector that informed the preparations and discussions for the meeting. As a result, another aim of the meeting was identifying issues related to seed production and marketing, structures and opportunities for stakeholders coordination, and mapping out actions to expand private sector participation in seed production and marketing in Ethiopia.
Facilitators also identified it will be applicable to share lessons and best practices from the Zambia and Zimbabwe seed sector and highlight the capabilities of the East Africa Seed Network online collaboration platform.
At the beginning of the meeting participants discussed the framework for the Ethiopia seed sector, which is separated into the formal, informal and intermediate entities. Participants identified varieties, production, and seed distribution processes within this tripartite seed system. This was followed by a presentation on lessons from Zambia and Zimbabwe seed sectors, a case study on SEEDCo of Zimbabwe, and a brief on the status of implementation of COMSHIP.
A seed expert from Zimbabwe, Denias Zaranyika of the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) and SEEDCo, presented the historical development and reform process in Zimbabwe and a case study of how a local seed company can register exponential growth and become a regional giant in a conducive policy environment. Chance Kabaghe of Idaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), highlighted critical reform interventions and how the expanded private sector role in the seed delivery, production and quality has transformed the seed sector in Zambia. Kabaghe noted that, “We as seed companies fight for farmers to get quality seed.” John Mukuka of COMESA also provided an update on the status of COMESA seed policy harmonization and important issues for Ethiopia to work on.
At the end of meeting, participants engaged in action planning and described how to build capacity for inclusion of private sector in the national seed system. Additionally, participants were introduced to using the East Africa Seed Network online collaboration platform to communicate with other key seed stakeholders. Ten participants from Ethiopia joined the network, in addition to two organizations identified to provide content for the East Africa Seed Network.
In the near future, Africa Lead will share a report on action plans and key outcomes from the stakeholders meeting with participants and continue consultations with the Ethiopia’s public and private seed sector systems. Africa Lead will also schedule a debrief meeting with USAID Ethiopia Mission to discuss the implications of supporting the implementation of the action points from the meeting.