Uganda: Better Seeds for Better Production
ICCO organized the symposium ‘Quality Seeds For All’ in Uganda, together with the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD Uganda), Hivos, and Oxfam. The aim of the event was to link research to practice; to share knowledge and expertise, discuss challenges, opportunities and way forwards regarding access to high quality seeds.
In Uganda, the agricultural sector is the backbone of the economy and the main source of income and employment for more that 60% of the population; most are smallholder farmers. The development of agriculture is therefore important for food security and the economic development of the country.
Low quality of seed affect agricultural production
Quality seed is a vital input for agricultural and determine the production, however access to quality seed remains a challenge in the country. As small-scale farmers continually shift from subsistence farming to commercial farming, a big deficit between the market requirements for quality and diverse seeds that adapt to different conditions and actual production exists.
The seed sector in Uganda largely operates under the informal seed system (85%) and 15% formal seed system comprised of registered seed merchants including seed companies.
Lack of vegetable seed, fake seeds in Uganda, the need for diversity in seed and the improved practices in farming are other challenges.
Different actors are seeking solutions: baseline studies, surveys, impact studies were conducted to generate evidence. However, there is need for sharing evidence and synergy, as well as a common lobby and advocacy agenda and most important involve the farmers in the decision-making.
ICCO, Hivos, ISSD and Oxfam and their partners organized a “Quality Seeds For All” symposium to bring key stakeholders to a dialogue. The main objectives of the event were:
Disseminate selected research undertaken on seed particularly access to quality seed for smallholder farmers.
Get commitments for action from present stakeholders (government, private sector, farmers).
Stimulate possibilities for innovations and practices on quality seed for smallholder farmers.
Policies and actions for quality seed
Around 100 participants from the public and private sector in agriculture, farmers, humanitarian and development organizations, seed trade associations, across all regions participated in the symposium.
At the end of the meeting a lobby and policy document elaborating policy and programmatic recommendations for advancing access to quality seed was developed.
Some actions points and recommendations:
- Scaling successful information dissemination strategies like model farmers, village agents & community agricultural promoters.
- Government and private sector support for seed banks, promotion of local varieties, guarantee of quality seeds and affordable agriculture finance and seed loans is necessary.
- Farmers should change mind-set and think of their farming as a business.
- If farmers work in cooperatives, they will be better placed to create quality seed and seed banks in their communities.
- Seed quality management system is very important.
- Linking farmers to markets is essential.