44 Strengthening Smallholder Seed Enterprises for Food, Nutrition and Income Security

Making a business case for smallholder enterprise as a contributor to sustainable intensification of agriculture     

Organizers

  • Gorta-Self Help Africa
  • Irish Aid (Irish Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
  • Bioversity International
  • FAO

Abstract

The importance of protecting traditional and underutilised varieties – as an adaptive response to climate change risks - is well understood by anthropologists, agronomists and plant breeders, and has traditionally been addressed through seed banks and in situ conservation practices. However, the commercial potential of seed production for these crops is far from being fully realised and has raised several issues over the ownership of the varieties.
The session today will provide examples of commercially viable ventures by smallholder farmers in different contexts and for a wide variety of crops: commodity crops, nutritionally rich cops, and some you have never heard of before!

In particular, presenters will address the following topics:

  • Building a business case for smallholder seed production
  • Establishing and strengthening farmer seed enterprises and community based seed cooperatives through the SDC funded project « Improving Seed Systems for Smallholder Farmers’ Food Security » in Bolivia, Nepal, Uganda, Uzbekistan.
  • The experience of farmer seed production and enterprises for neglected and underutilized species in India, Mali, and Guatemala through the IFAD and EU supported project “Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk”
  • Promoting the growth and development of smallholder seed enterprises in Africa: what are the key factors.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Ben Siddle –Irish Aid
  • Robert Guei - FAO
  • Devra Jervis – Bioversity International
  • Stefano Padulosi – Bioversity International
  • Paul Wagstaff – Gorta Self Help Afica

Summary

Options for the commercialization of smallholder seed enterprises

  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, the majority of seed used by African smallholder farmers is not saved seed but seed purchased in local markets
  • The large seed companies are primarily interested in selling hybrid maize and vegetable seeds and have little interest in the market for legumes seeds, creating a market opportunity for smallholder farmer seed enterprises
  • Importance to look at the commercial potential of seed production for traditional and underutilized varieties
  • There are several existing examples of commercially viable ventures by smallholder farmers in different contexts and for a wide varieties of crops
  • Importance of the availability of a diverse sets of varieties  per crop in the seed supply system
  • Establishing and strengthening farmer seed enterprises and community based seed cooperatives can effectively contribute to food and income security
  • Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition can be very effective in empowering the poor to manage risk

Key outcomes/take away messages

  • There is a need to disseminate existing examples of successful smallholder seed enterprises to enhance replication of diverse planting materials and scale
  • Smallholder seed enterprise can be viable but, realistically, only a limited number of farmers have the skills and resources to meet the quality and quantity requirements of the market
  • Stronger investment needs to be placed on smallholder farmers as viable commercial entities, and on the creation of enabling environment for smallholder seed businesses
  • Emphasis should be placed on the importance of gender and youth empowerment and the role of women and youth in seed enterprise development
  • We can introduce a stronger business angle to the whole food security and nutrition discourse, so as to further enhance the integration of economic, social and environmental development efforts, in line with Agenda 2030
Side Event - 44 - Strengthening Smallholder Seed Enterprises for Food, Nutrition and Income Security