In Niger, a pilot seed security assessment allows evidence-based interventions in the seed sector

In Niger, a pilot seed security assessment allows evidence-based interventions in the seed sector

26/03/2015

The Government of Niger gives great priority to seed security in its National Policy Document (PSN) of 2012. The Policy foresees an emergency plan in the event of a declared emergency to support the population with seed adapted to local conditions.

This context has justified the recent FAO initiatives implemented in Niger through the ECHO funded project Food Security Capacity Building, aimed at supporting national experts to lead and manage seed security assessments and providing national stakeholders with the ability to better analyse seed security. These actions are geared towards the establishment of better mapping and understanding of the functioning of the seed sub-sector.

Initial training was provided to 22 national professionals about seed security assessment techniques; five of them have received additional training in Niamey on 15-18 October 2014 to become national trainers. As part of the practical exercise of this training of trainers, a pilot study was conducted from 10 to 20 November 2014 in the Tillaberi region in the three rural districts of de Dantchiandou, Imanan and Kourthèye involving a sample of 240 households and the Final Report is now available for further use of all stakeholders. The methodology used was based on the revised Seed Security Conceptual Framework of (SSCF). From this study, some lessons have been learnt:

  • During 2014, the bulk of household seed requirements were provided by their own production, up to 67.6% for millet and 51.5% for sorghum. On the contrary, 42.8% of cowpea seed and 40% rice seed came from the local market that works relatively well. This trend, according to farmers, is not expected to vary significantly in 2015;
  • The seed aid that provides quality controlled seed from a growing seed system, occupies a proportion ranging from 8 to 10% depending on the crop, but it comes late (during the campaign) and targets a limited number of households;
  • From the analysis of the different pillars of the SSCF, seed access to markets (local sellers and agro-dealers) and seed quality remain a concern for farming households.

The recommendations to improve seed security include:

  • The rehabilitation and revitalization of the extension service framework for producers and intensification of agricultural extension. This recommendation is justified by the fact that former farmers who received advice when the extension system was active are leaving room to young heads of households moving in, with an almost nonexistent agricultural extension system;
  • The continuation of the rehabilitation of the formal seed sector and the establishment of direct and solid connections between the seed stakeholders and seed users at all levels;
  • Improving the quality of seed aid, by ensuring rigorous targeting of beneficiaries, by specifying the modalities seed is transferred to farmers, by emphasizing the quality and quantity of seed in compliance with the cropping calendar and by meeting farmers’ preferences.