Efficient production and supply of quality Basic seed is the fundamental prerequisite of any robust quality seed system. Access to affordable quality Basic seed of non-hybrid crops is one of the major challenges causing inadequate production of the much-needed quality seed (Certified and Quality Declared Seed) for sustainable food production in Uganda.
The overall objective of the EGS component of ISSD Plus is to ensure that seed producers have easy access to EGS of high quality especially for non-hybrid crops. The component has three outputs: 1) favorable conditions for seed production supported, 2) viable national initiatives on foundation seed production supported, and 3) viable zonal initiatives on foundation seed production supported. In the following sections, we present an analysis of our progress in achieving the outputs, observations and lessons learnt in during the last two years of implementation.
ISSD Plus project in partnership with MAAIF made significant progress in improving policy environment for a pluralistic seed sector in Uganda. The project supported sector stakeholder’s coordination through organizing annual stakeholder’s meetings at regional and national levels towards decision making concerning sustainable supply of Early Generation Seed in Uganda. The nature of bottlenecks in Uganda’s EGS delivery system requires multifaceted approaches and the collaboration of a number of stakeholders to address them.
Achievements in creating favourable policy environment in the Seed sector of Uganda
The National Seed Policy and National seed strategy, approved in 2018 and launched in 2019 by MAAIF with support of ISSD and its partners. This National Seed Policy is acknowledged as a very inclusive in regards to recognition of the various seed systems with the addition of quality declared seed as a quality seed class.
Government through the office of the Solicitor General gazetted Seed and Plant Quality Declared Seed Regulations, 2020 to regulate QDS production and marketing. ISSD Plus project in collaboration with MAAIF supported the development and the review process of the Seed and Plant QDS Regulations, 2020 which is intended to regulate the QDS marketing and quality assurance system in Uganda.
Due to good working relations, MAAIF again requested ISSD Plus project for a financial support to draft and finalise the PVP Regulations. In this regard, the Permanent Secretary MAAIF appointed a 12-member national task force to work closely with ISSD Plus project to oversee the drafting and review of the PVP Regulations. A consultant has been hired by ISSD Plus project and the PVP Regulations draft already reviewed at least once by the task force. The next stage is now to take the draft for stakeholder’s consultations.
The national initiative focused on setting up institutional structures for a sustainable production and supply of high-quality Basic seed especially for non-hybrid crops which has little margin for commercial business case. The Early Generation Seed study (Mastenbroek et al., 2015) suggested three options to address EGS complex challenges in Uganda. These includes 1) starting up an independent Foundation Seed Enterprise (FSE) with NARO to run as a social enterprise to produce foundation seed for those crops of low profit margins; 2) Support the Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institutes (ZARDIs) to produce foundation seed on a cost recovery basis (using a sustainable business concept; and 3) Support able Local Seed Business groups and individuals to produce foundation seed; all these with full supervision of the respective crop breeders and inspected by the National Seed Certification Services (NSCS).
ISSD Plus has worked with MAAIF to institute a quality assurance mechanism for EGS. MAAIF now inspect basic seed fields, collect samples for Laboratory testing from all Basic seed producers. Previously, the quality assurance of Basic seed was left to researchers who were also the sole producers of the EGS. However, through collaboration with MAAIF, ISSD Plus invested time in building structures for sustainable ESG quality assurance targeting improving the quality of Basic seed used in quality seed production through ensuring proper acquisition of breeder seed, field inspection, seed sampling and testing by authorized person and laboratories respectively and acquisition of tamper proof labels from by the NSCS.
To improve the efficiency of quality assurance and proper tracking of the seed lots in the market, ISSD Plus is supporting MAAIF to develop a digital Seed tracking and tracing system (STTS). Once completed and functional, the digital STTS will ensure easy linkages between Basic seed producers and users, and also provide phone application for quality seed marketing. Through the digital STTS, quality seed producers can pre-book their Basic seed demand at least a season in advance to allow proper planning for the Basic seed producers. Also through the tracking and tracing system, it will be easy for MAAIF to regulate quality seed production by confirming the rightful source of their Basic seed through the use of the digital STTS. The system will also provide real time information to government and seed sector stakeholders on seed demand in the country, an information which is vital for decision making. NARO Breeders, private Basic seed producers including S4S, selected LSBs, ZARDIs and Seed companies will be trained on how to use the digital STTS.
ISSD Plus project in collaboration with NARO Holding Limited (NHL), the business wing of NARO has registered and independent company limited by guarantee under NHL to run non profit social enterprise to produce and market quality foundation seed of non-hybrid crops to seed producers (seed companies and Local Seed Businesses) on a cost recovery basis. S4S will is governed by board of directors who are selected from different public and private institutions such as MAAIF, NARO, USTA and individual reputable Ugandans with experience in seed system. ISSD Plus and NARO are now investing in the S4S Business plan to see it up and running in producing and supplying quality seed. With its production land in Kigumba, S4S is prepared to independently study Basics demand, produce and supply quality Basic accordingly.
SSD Plus trained and supported Zonal Agricultural Research and development Institutes to produce foundation seed as a business. Generally, public institutions are not design to successfully run a business model. However, NARO is currently encouraging all the ZARDIs to increase their Non-Tax Revenue as a strategy to boost resource mobilization towards research work. ISSD Plus with the approval of NARO Director General has supported these ZARDIs including AbiZARDI in West Nile, Ngetta ZARDI in Northern Uganda, Mbarara ZARDI in South western Uganda, Rwebitaba ZARDI in Western Highlands, Buginyanya ZARDI in Eastern highlands and Kachwekano ZARDI in south Western highland of Kigezi region to produce and market foundation seed in a cost ZARDI recovery basis. Through these
Basic seed modules Basic seed of Beans, upland rice, soybean and Potato were more accessible to seed growers especially the Local Seed Businesses in those respective zones. In addition to ZARDIs, ISSD Plus also supported Makerere university soybean program to improve its quality assurance and storage systems for soybean Basic seed.
ISSD Plus has identified six highly experienced LSBs to engage in Basic seed production of Beans (2), Potato (2) and Groundnut (2) basic seed under the supervision of the respective crop Breeders. Selected members from these LSB groups are trained by respective crop breeders in Basic seed production and maintaining variety purity before engaging in the LSB-EGS module. The LSBs in LSB-EGS module include Tic Ryemo can in Nwoya district for groundnut, Aye Medo Ngeca in Dokolo district for groundnut, Mengya Integrated Farmers Association (MIFA) in Kween district for Potato, Kyazanga in Lwengo district for Beans and Omutiima Gwa Ruhiira in Isingiro district for Beans. These LSB EGS fields are monitored by the Breeders at least once a season and inspected by NSCS MAAIF at least twice a season inclusive of seed sampling and testing for certification purposes. In this approach, a member forfeit QDS production once identified for EGS production to avoid contamination due to mixing of seed lots and classes.
The Zonal foundation seed module has seen about 250MT of quality Basic seed of Soybean, Beans, groundnut and Potato being produced and sold to quality seed producers especially the Local Seed Businesses in Northern, Southwestern dry land and highlands (Kigezi), addressing the challenges of inadequate access to quality Basic seed for quality seed production in Uganda. These foundation seed modules are effective and require additional mentorship coaching and nurturing for a sustainable production and supply of high-quality Basic seed for quality seed (Certified and QDS) production which is a key requirement in transforming agricultural production and productivity to produce sufficient raw materials for industrialization of Agriculture in Uganda.