SE029 Closing the hunger gap through improved seed access - Latest developments in policy and practice: Showcasing how SMEs can sustainably deliver quality seed locally/regionally within specific agroecological zones


  • Self Help Africa
  • Vita
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD)
  • Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

The genetic improvement of food staple and micronutrient-rich crops cultivated by small-scale, resource-poor farmers is a well-established route to food and nutrition security and thus a key contributor to the achievement of SDG2.

The sustainable supply of high quality germplasm is common to all approaches to agriculture, agroecology and food systems. Past decade has seen dramatic changes in policies and regulations that govern national seed systems in many countries. Policies and regulations require a set of tradeoffs for each country and its farmers. Some of these have been perceived to negatively impact on smallholder farmers' seed requirements. This session will present an overview of the seed policy landscape in the tropical and sub-tropical countries and provide practical examples of how the seed needs and interests of smallholder farmers can be addressed by policy makers, small and medium scale seed enterprises and communities, and how seed systems can adapt to changing climates. This event aims to provide a nuanced appreciation of the trade-offs, unintended consequences, and implementation challenges of the policy, investment, and programmatic choices made by governments, enterprises, cooperatives, and farmers themselves.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Chris Somerville, Irish Aid
  • Paul Wagstaff, Self Help Africa (who also presented on behalf of ISSD)
  • Mywish Maredia, IFPRI
  • John Gilliland, Vita

Main themes/issues discussed  

This session looked at the importance of addressing seed supply in order to close the hunger gap.

Summary of key points 

The session began with the macro level and moved to the micro, starting with a presentation from IFPRI on the role of seed policies in creating a well-functioning seed system. The Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) program of Wageningen University provided an example of policy change through their work in adapting FAO’s Quality Declared Seed (QDS) model to Uganda. Moving to the micro, Vita provided a field example from Ethiopia of the use of the QDS approach for vegetative germplasm, in this case solanum potato, using science to develop disease-free solanum potato minitubers. Staying in Ethiopia Self Help Africa presented its Edget Cooperative model for scaling up farmer owned seed enterprises.

The session acknowledged Irish Aid’s role in agricultural research and development through, among others, its support to:

  • the CGIAR PIM program led by IFPRI;  
  • the seed potato work in Ethiopia, which brought together expertise in Solanum potato research and production from Ireland with researchers from Wageningen and CIP and
  • the development of the SHA-Edget Seed Cooperative Model.

Key take away messages 

  • A well functioning seed system requires: adoption of improved varieties; use of quality planting material; conservation of biodiversity; productivity gains; welfare gains for resource-poor farmers and consumers
  • QDS is a profitable and self sustaining business
  • Seed Cooperatives can produce quality seeds of all class and contribute to seed security
  • Importance of setting  up community based seed producers groups as commercially viable enterprises  
CFS 46 Side Event: SE029 Closing the hunger gap through improved seed access - Latest developments in policy and practice


The contents of this page is provided by the Side Event organizers and does not reflect the opinion of CFS