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Better seeds for higher yields

Posted by Sarah Hessel Thursday, March 22, 2012

Second day of the IFAD-EUFF capitalisation workshop in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

I’m sure, all of you are familiar with the following situation: You write an article/report/letter and you think you have addressed every aspect, answered every question and structured the information in a logical way. Then you give it to colleagues and they come back with inputs and comments. And in the end, you have an even stronger document.

This is exactly what happened today, at the second day of the IFAD-EUFF capitalisation workshop in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The different country groups from Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Mali and Côte d'Ivoire had prepared one or two articles in which they outlined experiences they made while implementing the projects. These documents will be published and will support other organisations working on similar issues, to gain new ideas or to replicate the successful approach. This morning, all participants came together in small groups and discussed the articles prepared by the other projects.ents where you ask yourself how you could have possibly not considered this. And in the end, you have an even stronger document.

The feedback was as diverse as the people in the room: “What kind of training was provided?”; “How many seed producers were selected?”; “You should insert subheads to make the document better readable.” and so on.

The result is a room full of participants who are working in their colleague’s comments in their paper. While this morning was dominated by lively discussions, now you mainly hear clicking of many keyboards. And while the workshop participants are working on their articles, I will share some of their experiences with you:


Since it is the UN International Year of Cooperatives, I will start with Senegal, where more than 65 per cent of the population lives in rural areas. Most of them are engaged in agriculture, many produce groundnuts. A change in agricultural policies, the hand-over of groundnut seed production from the state to the private sector, let to a rapid decline in the groundnut production. Attempts to rebuild the seed stock failed. Together with IFAD and the World Bank, the Government of Senegal piloted the establishment of groundnut seed producer cooperatives . The pilot was a big success and with the additional funding by the European Food Facility (EUFF), cooperatives have been established in five more regions. In their article, the colleagues from Senegal share their experiences in establishing cooperatives, good practices for marketing, financial and administrative management and how to ensure the cooperatives’ sustainability.


Northern Mali is landlocked, has a fragile ecosystem and regularly faces drought. But at the same time, it is rich in natural resources and offers huge flood or non-flood plains – perfect to cultivate rice along the river Niger. Rice is not only the main cereal consumed in the region, but also offers an income source as a cash crop. With the support of IFAD, the Government of Mali established the Programme for Investment and Rural Development in Northern Mali (Programme d’Investissement et Développement Rural des Régions du Nord Mali, PIDRN). Supported with the funding by the EUFF, PIDRN increased the availability of certified seeds. The project developed small irrigated village seed plots which are managed by cooperatives. Traditionally rice seeds are produced in small plots within the rice paddies and are often exposed to drought periods. Producing rice seeds in village seed plots allows for better water management, better production monitoring and the scale-up of the production. The numbers of farmers engaged in seed production are increasing, but so is the demand for certified rice. In their article, the colleagues from Mali share not only a project outline and the lessons learned but also future steps to ensure the project’s sustainability.


In Benin, seed production is divided among a large number of actors. Without a joint platform, there was no dialogue, no joint approach and a lot of conflict about the different competences. The Government of Benin, together with IFAD and financial support from the EUFF, established a dialogue platform, to bring all actors together and create synergies in their work. The difficult undertaking was worthwhile. As a result, the availability of rice seeds and cassava cutting has increased significantly. Another experience the colleagues from Benin shared, was the use of biotechnology to ensure the quality of the cassava cuttings. A video documentary gives some background about the set up and results of this project.

Côte d'Ivoire

For Ivory Coast, the Project for Support to Small Scale Market Gardeners in the Savanes Regions (PPMS), shared the experience on the establishment of a process to produce certified rice and maize seeds. This process helped to ensure the use of quality seed and led to higher yields. With support of IFAD and the EUFF, the Project developed a four phase-certification process:

  1. pre-inspection which includes the identification, accreditation and the training of seed multipliers as well as the choice of plots;
  2. the field inspection to verify the quality of the pre-base seeds and the inspection of production conditions;
  3. from the harvest of accredited farms samples were taken and analysed at the national seed laboratory,
  4. depending of the results of the analysis, the producers receive a certificate of compliance or non-compliance by the Ministry of Agriculture.


The Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme (RTIMP), initiated by the Government of Ghana and IFAD, developes the crop production through research and extension. With additional funding provided by the EUFF, the project’s efforts to sustainable increase the production of seed yam and cassava stems by small-scale growers could be scaled-up. Traditional methods of multiplying and distributing planting often come with low yields, the multiplication and spread of diseased planting material and a large input to produce seeds/stems. To ensure that farmers have high quality crops and higher yields, RTIMP introduced the minisett technology, a methods to produce yam seeds with less input and better results and established a sustainable system for the supply of roots to Good Practice Centres through the strategic multiplication and distribution of improved cassava planting materials. In their two articles, the colleagues from Ghana, describe how they spread the improved methods of producing planting materials, outline the different production methods and share their lessons learned.

All articles will soon be available on FIDAfrique.

1 Responses to Better seeds for higher yields

  1. Plant mortality is highest at the seed to seedling stage. Every seed is really a structure that embodies and protects the baby plant or embryo, plus a certain amount of food to tide it over the early stages of germination and growth.

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