In order to boost agricultural production, farmers must have easy access to quality seeds of high yielding varieties appropriate to the local farming environment. This requires an improvement in the seed production and marketing systems.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the public sector has gradually withdrawn from the production and distribution of seeds in recent decades, making way for the private sector which, unfortunately, has yet to fully take up this role. More recently, however, several small seed companies are emerging and beginning to supply the market with quality seeds, but these nascent production and marketing systems must be supported and strengthened in order for them to become sustainable and better equipped for meeting the difficult challenging situations.
Harmonization of national seed regulations and policies can play an important role in promoting farmers' access to quality seed by facilitating cross-border seed trade. In West Africa, seed regulations and policies fall into three categories:
First, is the most general level which is governed by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This stresses the importance of creating strong links between conservation and sustainable use of resources.
Second, is the sub-regional level which was consolidated in 2008 with the joint adoption of the Regional Agreement by ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS. This Agreement is a standardized framework enabling the production and marketing in all member countries of certified seed varieties approved by any member country.
Finally, at national level, countries are required to develop and apply the guidelines in force at regional and international levels, and can be supported in this effort by FAO and other regional and international fora.
Based on the needs expressed by the countries concerned, the APRAO project supports the development and implementation of national seed policies and regulations in the following areas:
- Quality assurance of seeds
- Quality control
- Establishment of small seed companies
- Production of national catalogues of registered varieties
- Strengthening the capacity of national agricultural research institutes and seed companies in the production of first-generation seeds
To access the content of seed policies and regulations available online, please click here.