March 11, 2022 (Djibouti, Djibouti): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in partnership with the Seed Systems Group and the financial support of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), conducted a learning exchange visit in Kenya from 28th February to 4th March 2022.
The visit was one of the regional activities under the Building Back Better-Rural Livelihoods Recovery Initiative aimed at supporting national agricultural systems disrupted by the compounding effects of recurrent and emerging trends in climatic and macro-economic shocks, conflict and insecurity, pests and diseases and Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to address these challenges, IGAD has developed the IGAD Food Security and Nutrition Response Strategy to significantly reduce food insecurity and malnutrition posed by multiple disasters affecting the IGAD Member States and the region at large.
The objective of the exchange visit was to facilitate an open and mutual exchange of ideas, knowledge and sound practices in the seed sector.
Presentations were made by Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives of Kenya, Seed Trade Association of Kenya (STAK), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Farm Input Promotions Africa Ltd. (FIPS-Africa) on various focus areas in the seed sector.
In addition, participants visited and interacted with several public research and regulatory institutions and private and public seed companies. These include Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Seed Unit, Western Seed Company and Kenya Seed Company. The main topics covered were seed policy development and institutional arrangements, seed regulatory systems, national quality standard setting and law enforcement, variety development, seed production, marketing and distribution and seed testing and certification services
Participants were also exposed to the roles, responsibilities and mandates of the different public and private institutions in the seed value chain and their complimentary functions in the seed delivery system. They were provided with opportunities to witness how the different seed systems and the actors interact to ensure quality seed delivery to farmers in Kenya and beyond. The lack of regulatory capacities and policies and limited private sector presence in the seed sector were mentioned as major challenges exposing member states to be a dumping ground for seed that do not meet quality attributes. The bulk importation and distribution of emergency seeds through international procurement by relief agencies was also recognized as a major barrier between farmers and local seed companies.
The visit contributed towards identifying areas of collaboration and building common understanding on the urgent need for the development and operationalization of harmonized seed policies and practices to increase the flow of seed across the region.
Finally, the participants identified major lessons learnt and action points to be implemented in their respective countries to support the formulation of resilient and responsive national seed policies and practices in their respective Member States.
The Building Back Better Initiative outlines approaches and interventions towards livelihood recovery through revitalizing the broken-down seed systems and extension networks to ensure access and better delivery of improved seeds and advisory services contributing to the IGAD regional response strategy.