Africa needs more seed companies to push out improved maize varieties

By Godwin Atser
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African governments have been urged to encourage the emergence of more seed companies that will multiply, market, and disseminate improved maize varieties to farmers to boost food production.

So far, in the West African region, only Nigeria has a relatively vibrant seed industry with about 12 emerging private sector-driven seed companies. Ghana and Mali have three each, while the Republic of Benin has none.

Researchers say this development needs to change for Africa to taste the much awaited Green Revolution.

At a Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa training course on 'Variety Testing and Seed Production of Open-pollinated and Hybrid Varieties,' Dr. Baffour Badu-Apraku, IITA Maize Breeder based in Ibadan, said the development of the seed sector was imperative for the continent to have a landmark breakthrough in agricultural productivity.

According to him, Africa needs to push for the establishment of more seed companies that will meet the growing demand by farmers.

The training course, which was held in Ibadan, brought together 25 seed specialists of public institutions and production managers of private seed companies under the DTMA project.

The main aim of the course was to upgrade the technical capabilities and skills of the participants in variety testing, and the techniques of quality seed production, particularly hybrid seed.

Badu-Apraku said the training course was part of strategies designed by IITA and CIMMYT to encourage the emergence of more seed companies in the region.

Another strategy adopted by researchers to promote the availability of good quality maize seed is the facilitation of the establishment of Community-based Seed Production Schemes.

In his words, Badu-Apraku said, “For about 20 years, we have been supporting the Community-based Seed Production Schemes, providing training for them, working with the national systems and arranging inputs for them, linking them with credit facility providers, and in some cases, linking them to the private seed companies to ensure sustainability of schemes.”

According to him, once linked to private seed companies, the Community-based Seed Producers become contract growers and that they have assured market.

For more information, please contact:
Godwin Atser, [email protected]
Corporate Communications Officer (West & Central Africa)

Baffour Badu-Apraku, [email protected]
Maize Breeder
Jeffrey T. Oliver, [email protected]
Corporate Communications Officer (International)
Communication Office
IITA - Headquarters
Ibadan, Nigeria
IITA - Headquarters
Ibadan, Nigeria
About IITA
Africa has complex problems that plague agriculture and people's lives. We develop agricultural solutions with our partners to tackle hunger and poverty. Our award winning research for development (R4D) is based on focused, authoritative thinking anchored on the development needs of sub-Saharan Africa. We work with partners in Africa and beyond to reduce producer and consumer risks, enhance crop quality and productivity, and generate wealth from agriculture. IITA is an international non-profit R4D organization since 1967, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily by the CGIAR.