Why is transformation needed in this program area?

Improved seed is one of the most basic and important inputs to increase production and productivity of crops. The pace of progress in increasing crop production and productivity largely depends upon the pace with which good and quality assured seeds and planting materials are multiplied and accessed by farmers. Variety development and maintenance of foundation seeds, multiplication of improved or certified seeds, and an efficient distribution network are all important elements of a healthy and well-functioning seed sector.

The Ethiopian seed sector is characterized by dominance of the public sector in production and supply, inaccurate demand estimation mechanisms, and limited capability of the private sector. The current average national seed supply of improved varieties for most food crops covers less than 10% of the total agricultural land area. In contrast, countries like Kenya, Turkey and South Africa have much more robust seed systems while countries like Bangladesh and India have mature seed systems. Domestic seed sales in Ethiopia in 2012 were only $ 0.2 per capita. In contrast, Tanzania (0.3), Bangladesh (0.8), Kenya (1.4), India (1.6), South Africa (9.0) and Turkey (9.9) all had considerably higher per capita seed sales leading to higher levels of overall improved seed usage and thus higher productivity.2

Coupled with other agricultural inputs, the use of improved seed has an immense potential to drive major increases in production and productivity. Such gains, along with increased smallholder commercialization and the use of market-demanded varieties, is critical for agricultural transformation. Many developing countries, especially those in Asia, were able to transform their agriculture sectors and ensure food security for billions through the adoption of high-yielding varieties of seed, in addition to other modern inputs.

What are the objectives of this program area during GTP II?

Access to quality inputs (improved seed and planting material, fertilizer and pesticides) through multiple outlets is essential for farmers to increase production and productivity in a sustainable manner. Thus, the seed program envisions contributing to the improvement of farmers’ livelihoods through innovative, sustainable, and market-led seed production and supply systems.

Also envisioned by the program is ensuring gender sensitive, environmentally sustainable, and demand-based delivery of quality assured seeds to end-users in sufficient quantity through multiple channels at the proper time, place and at affordable prices.

What are the focus areas of this program?

A key focus area for the program is developing a vibrant and competitive seed sector through: strengthening the enabling environment; incentivizing investments across the entire seed supply chain; strengthening federal/regional seed regulatory capacity; and implementing structural reforms and legal frameworks to meet international standards.

Major interventions to address these include: creating enabling environment for the realization of Plant Breeder Rights (PBR) to implement royalties for crop varieties; facilitating access to finance and other support for national seed producers and distributers; building a competitive seed marketing system (e.g. Scale up Direct Seed Marketing and other models) across geographies & crops; building capacity and developing an operating model for Community Based Seed Production (CBSPs) as well as establishing and strengthening federal/regional seed core team/forums.

Additional interventions will focus on regulatory frameworks and include the finalization of reforms, the strengthening of seed certification capacity at regional levels, as well as developing and harmonizing the implementation of seed laws, regulations, directives and guidelines across regions. Equally important focus areas will be developing standards and enhancing capacity for variety certification, release, and protection at federal level. Similarly, capacitating seed certification agencies to have increased service coverage and capability to enforce seed regulations across all seed producers, distributors, and facilitators in mandated geographies will also be focus areas.

2USAID Ethiopia, Comparative analysis of Ethiopia’s 2013 Seed Proclamation and Draft Seed Regulations, 2013