USAID-AfricaRice project sets the stage for a resilient, vibrant seed industry in Senegal
An innovative public-private partnership-based project, led by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has not only boosted the resilience of Senegal’s seed value chains to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on food security, but has also laid the foundation for a resilient and vibrant national seed industry to meet the needs of the country.
Rice is vitally important for Senegal, which has a per capita rice consumption of about 110 kg a year – on a par with many Asian countries. To meet this demand, improvements in the quality of and access to seeds are indispensable for increasing domestic rice production and reducing the country’s high rice import dependency.
The project’s initial focus was therefore the development of the rice seed sector in the Senegal River Valley and the central and southern regions of Senegal. But, with the advent of the pandemic and its impact on food security, the project’s mandate was expanded to cover millet, sorghum, and maize and its term was extended from October 2020 to April 2022.
“The availability of quality seeds became the greatest challenge for farmers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Senegal,” said Dr Ernest Asiedu, AfricaRice Coordinator of the Rice Seed Scaling Project in Senegal. “Thanks to USAID support, as part of an emergency measure, the project enabled Senegal to respond to seed shortages in rice, millet, maize, and sorghum, caused by disruptions in seed supply due to the pandemic.”
The timely response to the pandemic was one of many significant achievements of the project, as highlighted below, which contribute to a sustainable seed sector development in the country:
The establishment of a consortium of 10 partners, with complementary roles in the seed sector, which strengthened the seed value chain, through effective coordination, joint monitoring, contractual arrangements and sharing of information and best practices.
The empowerment of over 6,500 value chain actors, including women and youth, who were trained in seed production, quality control, marketing, monitoring and evaluation and field mapping, which provides a critical mass of human capital for seed industry development.
The promotion of climate-smart rice varieties with yield potential ranging between 8-10 t/ha and tolerance to local stresses, such as high salinity, iron toxicity, drought and flood: the ISRIZ, ARICA, Sahel and NERICA varieties.
The production of over 170 t of breeder seeds of the selected cereals by AfricaRice and the Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA) to meet the demands of the private sector.
The production of nearly 1,180 t of foundation seeds for supply nationwide and over 6,470 t of certified seeds by 10 private sector partners. The certified seeds were estimated to cover nearly 130,000 ha to produce over 517,000 t of paddy rice.
The provision of irrigation equipment, development of additional irrigated land and the rehabilitation of another seed production center of ISRA, which strengthened the capacity of the institution.
The inclusion of private sector in the quality control system, which enabled the ATLASEM enterprise to sign contracts with the remaining members, complemented the effort of the public sector and led to the successful approval of 707 ha of seed fields for certification.
The establishment of a national seed security stock, which enabled Senegal to respond to seed shortages during the pandemic by deploying over 72 t of foundation seed stocks of rice, millet, maize, and sorghum for multiplication.
The development of a comprehensive national database of seed producers, with geo-referenced maps of seed production sites. This provides the identity of all seed producers and the maps of seed production sites, facilitating networking, quality control and estimation of seed production volumes.
The strengthening of partnership with local farmer networks, such as the Federation of Maize Producers of Saloum (FEPROMAS) led by Ms Nimna Diayite, which has nearly 1,340 members of whom 80% are women. This helped greatly in developing the capacity of FEPROMAS members in good seed production practices and led to the improvement of the food security in its 22 operational communities.
The development of various tools and models – such as a framework for seed value chain development, models for seed sector planning, business administration, budgeting, seed buffer stock management, resilience to shocks, private sector engagement in seed quality control, seed database management, seed sector training – which will further bolster the seed system.
These accomplishments were commended by representatives from USAID, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment (MAER) and the private sector at the project closeout workshop on 28 July 2022 in Saint Louis, Senegal.
Congratulating AfricaRice and its partners for successfully managing the project, Mr Abdoulaye Ndia, USAID Agricultural Team Leader in Senegal, remarked, “The USAID-Economic Growth Office (EGO) is satisfied with the overwhelming achievements of the project.”
MAER Representative, Ms Ballel Bassoum, said, “MAER is grateful to the project for an effective collaboration with, and support to the public institutions – ISRA, Regional Divisions for Rural Development (DRDR) and the Seed Division (DISEM), as well as to the private sector.”
According to Mr Modou Thiam, Chairman of the National Union of Seed Professionals (UNIS) and representative of the private sector, the best practices promoted by the project will be adopted and the project achievements will be integrated in the operations of the seed companies, their union and the proposed Seed Alliance.
Thanking all the partners involved in the successful completion of the project, Dr Asiedu emphasized that the approaches adopted for the project implementation have effectively enhanced the resilience of the Senegalese seed system to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and future shocks.
An exit and sustainability strategy has been developed, which will facilitate the integration of the achievements in the seed sector. The USAID also pledged its support to the implementation of the strategy. “We are proud that the success and the lessons learnt have set the stage to propel the national seed industry towards the realization of its goal of meeting the seed needs of Senegal,” Dr Asiedu concluded.