Moving to productive agriculture
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is boosting Africa’s commercial seed sector through their Program for Africa’s Seed System which strives to dramatically increase local capacity to grow, produce and disseminate quality seed of staple food crops.
Launched in 2007, the Program for Africa’s Seed System is partnering with 80 companies across the continent to date, in producing professionally certified seed for an array of African staple crops such as maize, cassava, millet, rice, sorghum, beans, sweet potatoes, cow pea and groundnuts.
According to the director Africa’s Seed System director, Dr Joe De Vries,“The rapid growth of local seed companies over a very short time period, is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit percolating in communities across Africa and to the pent-up demand among Africa’s smallholder farmers for improved, high-yield crop varieties.” A survey of farmers in nine countries,conducted by AGRA in 2013, found that the majority of farmers who have invested in improved crop varieties have seen yields rise by 50% to 100%.
From the survey 69% of farmers surveyed in Kenya, 74% in Nigeria, and 79% in Mozambique said improved maize varieties had allowed them to double the amount of maize harvested per hectare. Similarly, 79% of farmers surveyed in Ghana reported doubling rice yields, and 85% of farmers surveyed in Uganda reported doubling yields from cow pea..
Jane Karuku, the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa said,“When we talk about a unique Green Revolution for Africa, we are talking about something that is indeed revolutionary, which is the development of a modern, highly productive agricultural sector that remains focused on small, family farms.”
“Our seed programme has shown that, if given access to the essential ingredients of modern agriculture, smallholder farmers in Africa can rapidly increase food production and become the bedrock of food security for the continent,” added Karuku.
The Program for Africa’s Seed System, with the support from Feed the Future through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is also accelerating the adoption of high-yield crop varieties and complementary technologies by smallholder farmers in Africa through the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership (SSTP), a US$47 million project in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania.
According to Dr Richard B. Jones, the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership’s Chief of party at AGRA, “It Is clear that increasing incomes for small farms, and for the local businesses that supply them, is the key to prosperity for millions of people living in sub-Saharan Africa.”
“Now we are building on that success by working with the private sector and governments to form country-led initiatives that will substantially increase and maintain the development, production and distribution of quality seed of superior varieties,” he said.
AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.