The Integrated Seed Sector Development programme in Uganda (ISSD Uganda) aims to support the development of a vibrant, pluralistic and market-oriented seed sector, providing smallholder farmers access to affordable quality seed of superior varieties. This will contribute to increased income for small-scale farmers and an increased number of rural households that are seed and food secure. The government of Uganda prioritizes agricultural development as the key approach for poverty reduction, food security and economic development. In its Agricultural strategy (DSIP), it focuses on enhancing agricultural production and productivity, access to markets, creating an enabling environment and institutional development. An integrated seed sector development (ISSD) programme builds upon the strengths of both the formal (public and private) and informal (farmers and community-based) seed systems and seeks to consolidate them. The programme guides specific interventions in identified seed systems; linking food and seed security to private sector development and aligning and harmonising seed policies, laws, regulations, interventions, programmes and practices.
Local seed businesses (LSBs) fill a gap in quality seed production for crops in which the commercial seed companies are not interested. LSBs may start from the informal sector as farmer groups or entrepreneurial farmers who see business opportunities in the production and marketing of quality seed. At the end of the programme these farmer groups produce and sell quality seed of locally preferred crops and varieties to local markets and operate as local businesses. They are technically equipped, professionally organised, market oriented and strategically linked to achieve commercial sustainability.
The ISSD Uganda programme started in 2012 and operates in three geographical areas based on agro ecological zones; namely West Nile, Northern Uganda and Western Uganda. There is close collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), a seed expert, an agribusiness expert and a driver based at the zonal research stations of Abi ZARDI, Mbarara ZARDI, and Ngetta ZARDI. Each team works with 10 LSBs. In the second phase of the programme, this number will increase to approximately 100, which will be supported by partner organisations.
At the end of the ISSD Uganda programme, and with the support of Public sector organisations, a process shall be created that will introduce new methods of enhancing effectiveness and efficiency; define complementary roles and create a sustainable mode of operation in supporting other stakeholders in their efforts to produce and market quality seed of superior variety.
It is expected that MAAIF, NARO, NSCS, NAADS, Universities, and others shall increase their collaboration with and work in partnership with commercial seed companies, local seed businesses, farmer organisations and civil society organisations. This collaboration and partnership will specifically be in relation to seed quality control, access to foundation seed, inclusive policy development and the uptake of quality seed by farmers.
Through innovative approaches, a number of bottlenecks in the seed sector, such as seed quality control, access to foundation seed and variety release will have to be resolved at an institutional level. In these three issues, the above mentioned and other public sector organisations have a clear role to play.