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by Silvia Sperandini

A small but passionate group has animated an interactive session on the potential of local seed enterprises.

Jenny Rafanomezana (Policy and Research Advisor, SHA) presented the innovative intermediary role played by her organization in enabling smallholder farmers to engage in seed multiplication and establish local seed enterprises. Her intervention was followed by a short Video that, with its powerful music, at 9:20 a.m was a perfect energizer.

Then, starting from the concept of Integrated Seed Sector Development, Pietro Chiappini Carpena from Self Help Africa provided an overview on the concept of Integrated Seed Sector Development. While Elia Manda and Shimekit Maru shared their experiences in improving access to quality seeds for rural smallholder farmers through local seed enterprises in Zambia and Ethiopia.

The discussion kicked off by the guest panellists from SHA was just the starting point for a wider discussion of the issues raised. Michael Larinde (FAO/IFAD Senior Expert on Seeds) brought in his knowledge and lessons from recent missions. Other colleagues from AGRA shared their views. The rich debate touched a wide range of issues looking at technical, economic and social perspectives and the implications for seed practice and policy (including aspects linked to farmer organisation development, value chains, and multi-sector partnerships) and the dialogue flew across the world touching various country cases.

The audience concluded that farmers involved in seed initiatives now have a profitable livelihood strategy and that greater access to good seeds result in significant increases in productivity, enabling rural communities to become more food secure.

Once again knowledge sharing proved that barriers can be addressed and that this mutual learning is crucial to scale-up successful models.

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