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Background information on the ISSD Plus project

The ISSD Plus project runs from 2016 to 2020 and builds on the previous ISSD project (2012-2016). It operates in the East, South Western Highlands (Kigezi area), Western Highlands (Rwenzori area), South Western, Northern Zone and also has a presence in the West Nile zone agro-ecological zone. The project implements its activities through teams in the Zonal Agricultural Research and Development institutes (ZARDIs) of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO). The ZARDIs involved in the project include; Buginyanya ZARDI for the East; Rwebitaba ZARDI for the Rwenzori area; Mbarara ZARDI for the South West and South Western Highlands; Ngetta ZARDI for the North and West Nile zone.

The goal of the project is to contribute to increased incomes of smallholder farmer households and improved household food and nutrition security. Special attention is given to women and youth in increasing income and creating employment opportunities. The project goal will be realized through increased productivity of field and vegetable crops (Intermediate Result).

For field crops, increased productivity provides increased income and improved food security through existing and growing markets. The productivity increase results from the increased use of quality seed by small and medium-scale farmers (component 1). Quality seed use will be promoted through publicity and demonstration campaigns and proximity marketing efforts. Proximity marketing focuses on increasing farmers’ access to seed close to areas they easily reach. To satisfy the increasing quality seed demand, local seed businesses (LSBs) are supported to produce and market Quality Declared Seed (component 2). This means in practice that the project scales the LSB approach based on the experiences of the previous ISSD Uganda project (2012-2016). To assure that LSBs are able to perform well, their access to early generation seed is being improved (component 3).

The ISSD Plus project has a specific objective on vegetable sector development (component 4). In the vegetable sector, the access to EGS is not an issue, as vegetable seed companies integrate EGS into their commercial seed production chain. The project is therefore intervening to improve the access of vegetable producers to high quality seed and seedlings, through the introduction of improved varieties and improving farmers’ skills in vegetable production. By training vegetable growers, they will become able to take advantage of high quality seed and seedlings, and increase their productivity (Intermediate Result).  The project’s outcome and output areas are indicated in the table 1 below:

Table 1: Project outcomes and outputs

  Outcome Output
1 300,000 households increase productivity, income and Resilience Output 1.1 Smallholder farmers increased productivity from use of quality seed for crop production
  Output 1.2 LSB members increased QDS productivity and income
  Output 1.3 Vegetable growers increased productivity and income using high input-high output production systems

 

2 Strengthen seed sector institutions and environment Output 2.1 QDS institutionally embedded
  Output 2.2 Increased availability of quality assured Early Generation Seed (EGS)
  Output 2.3 Seed sector challenges innovatively addressed and seed sector knowledge        embedded

 

The project is implemented in partnership with NARO, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and the District Local Governments for issues related to seed quality assurance for field crops. For the vegetable component, the project works closely with seed companies including East West Seed, Rijkszwaan/Holland GreenTech, Enza Zaden/House of Seed and Bejo Seed/Cycas.

The Theory of Change for the ISSD Plus project can be found in appendix I. Below you can find more detailed information on each of the objectives, related outputs and activities.

Quality Declared Seed (QDS)

The use of good quality seed and planting materials of high yielding varieties significantly increases crop production. It is essential that it is available on time and place at affordable prices. In Uganda, there are two co-existing seed systems through which seed and planting materials are availed to farmers. The formal system is regulated by Government and contributes about 15% of total seed supply. The remaining 85% of seed is produced through the informal system that is unregulated and depends on farm-saved seed from previous cropping. The Seed and plant Act 2006 provides for five classes of seed including pre-basic, basic, certified (I & II), and standard. The draft National Seed Policy 2014 adds Quality Declared Seed (QDS) as the sixth class of seed to be implemented under the Act. QDS requires minimum field inspection and certification standards for variety purity and germination This meets the needs of smallholder farmers and is a basis for future certified seed market development. QDS is designed to complement the traditional seed and planting material inspection and certification scheme (Source: https://tinyurl.com/yabmvbpl). In 2016 an official QDS label (green) was launched by the president of Uganda, and this green label now, work coexists next to the blue label for certified seed.

Outcome 1 – 300,000 households increase productivity, income and resilience

In order to contribute to 300,000 households to increase their productivity, income and resilience, the project aims to enhance the use of quality seed (QDS and certified seed) – ‘uptake’); support Local Seed Businesses (LSBs) to produce QDS for the market (‘QDS’); as well as support vegetable farmers to increase productivity and income by using high-input high-output vegetable production systems (‘Vegetable’).

Output 1.1 ‘Uptake’

Four major underlying causes of low quality seed use were experienced during the concluded ISSD Uganda project. These included; i) lack of awareness on availability of quality seed; ii) real or perceived lack of quality seed available at convenient locations; iii) lack of cash to purchase seed and; iv) lack of knowledge on the economic benefits of investing in quality seed. The project addresses these challenges by ensuring that: i) smallholder farmers access certified and QDS at convenient and diversified outlets; ii) farmers are made aware of the benefits of using quality seed and iii) effective demand for quality seed is stimulated among smallholder farmers.

 Output 1.2 ‘QDS’

This result area aims at ensuring that there is affordable quality seed available for smallholder farmers by ensuring that Local Seed Businesses (LSBs) produce quality seed for the market. The farmers engaged in the LSBs are supported by the project to increase productivity of QDS and hereby income, by training and supporting them in enhancing productivity and marketing QDS. The idea is to scale out the development of 200 additional LSBs. This will improve on the availability of QDS in terms of volume. Unlike the previous ISSD Uganda project where there was a direct implementation by ISSD, this project works in partnership with Outscaling Partners (OSPs) who directly support the LSBs. These OSPs are generally non-governmental organisations, who are given a grant for 1 year and are being supported to assist farmers in producing QDS for the market.

Some 75 LSBs that were supported in the previous project, will get additional support to enhance productivity and business management practices. Amongst others, it involves training, innovation grants, supporting LSB associations (so that they can support the LSBs), infrastructure grants, linking to Business Development Services (BDS), and integrating gender.

 Output 1.3 ‘Vegetable’

 Based on an analysis of the vegetable sector in Uganda, bottlenecks exist at different levels. Some of the major constraints to vegetable production include: limited access to and knowledge of well-adapted varieties that are available in the market, lack of knowledge and skills in recommended agronomic practices, inconsistency in vegetable product quality and supply and low cost efficiency and productivity leading to lower competitiveness of the vegetable sector in Uganda compared to neighbouring countries. The component addresses these bottlenecks through: promoting use of advanced vegetable varieties and skilling farmers on improved vegetable production. It involves skilling farmers on improved vegetable production practices. This is done at training sites by vegetable sector professionals, that have been trained as trainers (TOT) on a vegetable production, using quality seed. Four seed companies are involved in the training of vegetable sector professionals. These trained vegetable sector professionals are also expected to set up demonstration plots and each train 25 farmers during field days. Additionally, campaigns, radio shows, etc will be held to raise awareness on vegetable production using quality seed.

 Outcome 2 – Strengthen seed sector institutions and environment

In order to support the farmers to enhance productivity, income and resilience, it’s not only important to enhance the availability and use of quality seed, but also the enabling environment needs to be strengthened. This involves the institutional embedding of QDS (‘QDS system’); increasing the availability of quality assured Early Generation Seed (EGS); and enough actively addressing seed sector challenges and embedding seed sector knowledge.

Output 2.1 Institutional embedding of QDS

 This involves rolling out a national QDS system. In order to ensure that the seed produced by LSBs meets the quality standards, District Agricultural Officers(DAOs) are trained, coached and supported to provide quality assurance and inspect the quality of seed produced by LSBs. In addition to this, support is provided to develop decentralized seed testing capacities. This involves setting up regional seed testing lab initiatives and training staff to carry out seed testing.

Output 2.2 Increased availability of quality assured EGS

 Experience from the previous ISSD Uganda project revealed that access to early generation seed (EGS) is key for the seed producers. EGS includes breeder and foundation seed, which is needed to produce sufficient quantities of certified and/or quality declared seed to satisfy the needs of farmers. However, the highly erratic availability of EGS of required quality poses a major challenge to the professionalization of the seed sector. The LSBs had and continue to have many difficulties in assuring timely access to the desired quantity and quality of EGS. If the supply of EGS is low and quality not good, seed cannot be effectively multiplied and its quality will also be poor. In addition, each crop has its own unique bottlenecks. Therefore, functioning modalities for EGS production are required. This result area is built on the assumption that by working on EGS, ISSD addresses a seed sector bottleneck for all seed systems as part of its guiding principles. This result area focuses on: i) operationalizing quality assurance for foundation seed production, including a tracking and tracing system; ii) forecasting, planning and coordinating EGS demand, production and marketing, which includes working with LSB associations, training seed companies and LSBs, setting up a pre-booking system etc; iii) piloting alternative initiatives for foundation seed production, such as a Foundation Seed Enterprise (FSE), individual LSB members, and Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institutes (ZARDIs).

Output 2.3 Seed sector challenges innovatively addressed and seed sector knowledge embedded

 In order to address challenges in the seed sector, grants can be provided for innovation projects. This includes addressing sector bottlenecks for vegetable, QDS and uptake. In addition, work needs to be done to lobby and advocate for cabinet approval of the national seed policy, and to support options for QDS, EGS and vegetables. Multi-Stakeholder Processes (MSPs) will be organised at zonal and national (including national seed stakeholder meetings) since the bottlenecks in the seed and vegetable sector can only be addressed by a variety of stakeholders. In addition to this the LSB approach, the upscaling approach working through OSPs, and the TOT for vegetable sector professionals are also intended to be embedded in relevant existing institutions.

 Organisational setting

Staff capacity is currently 17 programme staff supported by a team of 9 finance and administration staff. The programme team include 4 Agribusiness Experts and 4 seed Experts supported by drivers and Finance and Administration staff at each ZARDI. At the main office in Kampala, there are 2 Coordinators for the QDS outputs, 1 Coordinator for the EGS output and 1 Coordinator for the Quality Seed Uptake output. The vegetable output of the project is led by a Manager who is supported by a Vegetable Agronomist. The M&E team is composed of a Coordinator and Officer who work closely with the Communications Advisor. The Finance team is led by a Manager who works closely with a Finance Officer and Finance Assistant all based at the main office. The Administration and Grants team is led by a Manager supported by a Grants Officer, Human Resource and Administration Officer and an Administration Assistant. At each of the zonal offices, the Administration team is supported by Finance and Administration Assistant and one driver. The total number of staff is 35. Overall, the project is led by a Chief of Party with the support of the Deputy Chief of Party.

Implementing partners and other stakeholders

ISSD Plus works with the following implementing partners and other stakeholders:

Uptake

  • Uganda Seed Trade Association (USTA)
  • Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (Directorate of Extension)

 QDS

  • LSB Out-Scaling Partners (OSPs): These OSPs work with the LSBs to increase QDS productivity and market their produce. OSPs are contracted by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation to carry out these tasks. A list of these partners is included in the appendix 3
  • Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institutes (ZARDI’s) of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO): on the one hand the ZARDIs work as OSPs, whilst on the other hand they are the project hosts at the zones
  • Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (Directorate of Crop Production)
  • District Local Governments (DAOs)

EGS

  • NARO
  • Uganda Seed Trade Association (USTA)
  • Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (Directorate of Crop Production)

 

Vegetable

  • Wageningen University and Research: Wageningen Plant Research (PPO), the Netherlands
  • Seed companies: RijksZwaan/Holland GreenTech, East-West Seed LTD, Enza Zaden/House of Seed and Bejo/Cycas Seed companiesXclusive and Finca Verda Ltd.
  • SEVIA: Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Sector of Africa, Tanzania

 

Target groups

Small and medium-scale farmers are the ultimate beneficiaries. The expectation is that some 300,000 households will increase productivity, income and resilience, based on the assumption that these farmers will increase productivity from the use of quality seed for crop production. A specific focus is given to gender and youth.

Direct beneficiaries are the Local Seed Business (LSB) members and by the end of the project some 7500 LSB members are expected to have benefited from the production and marketing of Quality Declared Seed (QDS), in terms of increased productivity and income. In addition to this, some 100 vegetable sector professionals will be trained as trainers (TOT) so they can train some 20,000 farmers in vegetable production, using quality vegetable seed. Four vegetable seed companies will also directly benefit from the project, since they will be given a grant for developing demonstration plots. A specific focus is given to gender and youth.

ISSD coordinators
and partners: