AFRICA – The African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) has during a high-level AFSTA Congress held in Mombasa said that the availability of quality seeds is critical to enhancing crop productivity for a food and nutrition-secure continent.

Speaking during the Congress, Dr. Munyaradzi Jonga, the Seed Production Specialist and TAAT Maize Compact Lead at AATF noted that there is huge potential to maximize Africa’s agricultural productivity by leveraging on already available high-quality seeds of newly improved climate-smart varieties produced from different breeding programmes within the region.

He called for the need to stimulate demand that drives functional markets to enhance the uptake of improved varieties.

We need to implement policies that will encourage innovations and enhance seed systems,” he said.

Dr. Jonga emphasized the urgent need to stimulate demand and foster functional markets for improved seed varieties.

Identifying key constraints such as inefficient policy environments, lengthy breeding cycles, pest and disease pressures, and subpar seed quality, he called for the implementation of policies conducive to innovation and robust seed systems.

He noted that partnerships in commercialization are crucial in technology development, new product awareness, and demand creation and uptake by farmers.

“Effective collaboration and partnerships are critical for consistent high-quality seed delivery to farmers,” he stated.

Experts in the panel discussion agreed that international and national research organizations develop technologies and innovations, including climate-resilient crop varieties.

However, they noted that the outputs of research in Africa are not easily commercialized. Cognizant of this, seed systems are putting in place mechanisms to enable private companies to access and commercialize climate-resilient varieties.

“AATF is spearheading commercialization of technologies and innovations emanating from research through partnerships with different organizations including national research systems to deliver seeds of improved varieties to smallholder farmers,” Dr. Jonga said.

Through AATF partnerships in technology commercialization, he stated that the organization has released over 124 DroughtTEGO hybrids and produced 36,328 tons of climate-smart maize seeds that have been commercialized to mitigate the impact of frequent droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa due to climate change.

The hybrid seeds, he said, are enough to plant 1.5 million hectares.

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