Seeds are the vehicle for delivering the improvements in a crop to the farmer’s field. They are, therefore, a critical input in agricultural production. In order for their full potentials to be realized, seeds must remain alive and healthy and meet several other quality attributes when they are used. Unfortunately, many farmers, especially in developing countries where food insecurity and malnutrition are prevalent, do not have optimal access to sufficient quantities of affordable quality seeds of preferred crop varieties in a timely manner.

This Seeds Toolkit has been developed to support practitioners along the entire seed value chain to acquire the knowledge and skills they need in order to deliver quality seeds and planting materials of well-adapted crop varieties to farmers. The Toolkit is designed primarily for capacity-building activities, especially for small-scale farmers and small and medium-scale entrepreneurs and comprises the following six interrelated modules:

Module 1: Development of small-scale seed enterprises 

It provides a stepwise guide for the establishment of commercially viable seed enterprises in farmers’ communities. It covers the critical steps from the business plan to the production of seeds for sale. 

Module 2: Seed processing: principles, equipment and practice 

It presents the underlying principles of seed processing, the equipment used and the overall best practices from reception through conditioning to final delivery to customers. This module focuses on the use of affordable small-scale equipment for seed processing and sowing that may also be fabricated locally. 

Module 3: Seed quality assurance  

It assists seed practitioners and other stakeholders in meeting the set quality standards for seeds and in implementing procedures for certification. The topics covered include field inspections and seed conditioning, packaging and tagging, storage, sampling/testing, and distribution. 

Module 4: Seed sector regulatory framework  

It provides information on the elements of the regulations that govern the seed value chain – from variety registration through quality seed production to distribution and marketing. The materials covered include information about national seed policy, seed law and regulations, their definitions, purpose and interactions. 

Module 5: Seed marketing 

It presents the underlying principles for valuing and exchanging seeds. This module describes all the activities that are undertaken in getting seeds from the producers to the end-users or farmers. The reader is provided with guidance on how to conduct relevant research of the market for seeds, develop effective marketing strategies, articulate a marketing plan and manage the associated risks. 

Module 6: Seed storage 

It is estimated that 25–33 percent of the world grain crop, including seeds, is lost each year during storage. To avert this obvious drawback to food security and nutrition, this module provides the underlying principles for effective seed storage and the associated practices. The module provides guidance on the preservation of seeds under controlled environmental conditions to maximize seed viability for the long periods that may be required from harvesting through processing to planting. 

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