Locally owned seed firms boost production

About 80 seed companies in 16 African countries are on track to produce over 80,000 metric tonnes of certified seeds, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said, a project that is expected to lift millions of small-scale farmers and their families out of poverty.

An AGRA report said that there are already indications that increasing access to the improved seed is helping farmers realise an increase in food production by 50 to 100 per cent out of the same amount of land.

For example, 69 per cent of farmers surveyed in Kenya, 74 per cent in Nigeria, and 79 per cent in Mozambique said improved maize varieties had allowed them to double the amount of maize harvested per hectare.

Similarly, 79 per cent of farmers surveyed in Ghana reported doubling rice yields, and 85 per cent of farmers surveyed in Uganda reported doubling yields from cowpeas.

Seed firms

Since the emergence of private seed companies in sub-Saharan Africa in the late 1990s, Tanzania has led in East Africa by having 14 local and four foreign-owned companies involved in the production of high yielding seeds compared with 10 local firms and three foreign firms in Uganda.

Kenya has seven local and four foreign firms compared with only three local firms dealing in commercial seed production for farmers in Rwanda.

Josephine Okot, managing director at Victoria Seeds in Uganda, told The EastAfrican that farmers in East Africa are increasingly adopting high yielding seed varieties, as the population grows.

SOURCE: The East African