“Timely availability of improved seeds at affordable prices is critical to improving food security, resilience, and livelihoods for smallholder farmers in Africa”– this was the key statement made by the representatives of The African Seed Access Index (TASAI).
Headquartered in Kenya, TASAI team visited FARA secretariat mainly to discuss possible partnerships in the reviewing and dissemination of the TASAI tool.
The team represented by Dr. Edwin Mabaya, Associate Director at Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development and Mainza Mugoya, Regional Co-ordinator of TASAI said the tool is designed to monitor and evaluate the structure of seed systems and conduct its performance which serves smallholder farmers in Africa. It gives an annual scorecard on the vibrancy or competitiveness of a national seed sector and also serves as a useful tool for government policy makers, development agencies, seed enterprises, and most importantly, farmers.
While receiving the TASAI team, Dr. Aggrey Agumya, Director Corporate Partnerships and Communication FARA who represented the Executive Director agreed that TASAI is a laudable initiative which should engage with the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), since most countries have their priority crops. He commented on TASAI’s role to shed more light on policy intervention and added that people interested in this tool should not only be engaged in Food Security but also on Nutrition Security.
Dr. Edwin Mabaya stated that TASAI could play a valuable role in transforming the seed sector in Africa. He feels that the timing is perfect given the current seed sector dynamics in West Africa – from the rise of a private sector, ongoing policy formulation and regional efforts towards harmonization. Dr. Mabaya also noted that improved seeds can deliver state of the art technology to farmers including higher yields, disease and pest resistance, climate change adaptation, and improved nutrition.
In addition, Mainza Mugoya in his presentation, opined that TASAI aims to promote the creation and maintenance of enabling environments for competitive seed systems serving smallholder farmers. It is in this enabling environment that TASAI seeks to measure, track, and compare across African countries.
Over the last two decades, formal seed systems in Africa have been gradually liberalized resulting in increased participation of private seed enterprises (multinationals, regional and domestic companies) he said.
In terms of simplicity, the TASAI tool has easy interpretation without sacrificing rigor; data is cross-checked from multiple sources for accuracy, and it is very transparent with respect to its openness to inquiries and updates.
Supporting this initiative, Mr. Peter Kuria Githinji, Business Development and Partnerships Director at AAIN (representing the Agribusiness arm), said “the TASAI initiative is very timely and greatly complements many initiatives especially the CAADP”. He further stated that AAIN is keen on seed incubation and therefore pledged its support to disseminate the values of TASAI through diverse AAIN programme.
“We are more than happy to explore how the actions undertaken can be a catalyst to decision making on policy; investment, research and development, innovation platforms and incubation”- remarked Mr. Githinji.
Further, Dr. Agumya appreciated the team for enlightening FARA about TASAI and stressed that the potential areas for partnership with FARA and AAIN are evident. He said that FARA will look forward to working with TASAI and follow up on discussions by zeroing down on the concrete points raised.
The intended outcome of this index is improved access to locally adapted, affordable, and high-quality seed of improved varieties by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. TASAI team however, looks forward to tapping into FARA and the African Agribusiness Incubators Network’s (AAIN) broad institutional networks to transfer TASAI from research to policy action.
One of the major sponsors of TASAI project is Cornell University/Market Matters Inc.; the organization awarded a contract by the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership (SSTP) to roll out in the six AGRA/SSTP Countries (Ghana, Senegal, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique). Other sponsors include AGRA and the Kenya Markets Trust.
For more information on TASAI, click here.
For more pictures at the meeting, click here