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Collective Action News: Updates from agricultural research in Africa
Issue No 18
March 2010

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) as the source of this document


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For this issue of CAN, the spotlight is on Alliance for the Seed Industry in East and Southern Africa (ASIESA) initiative. While addressing the constraints to developing a vibrant commercial seed industry in East & South Africa, the initiative aims at improving the use of quality seed in the region.

The newsbytes, among others highlights the Global Futures project launch in Washington and you can now find an updated list of IWMIís research projects (24) carried out in the region in CGMAP Ongoing Research in Africa.


Regional partnerships to strengthen the seed industry

In early March, several CGIAR Centres were involved in discussions to formulate a new initiative, the Alliance for the Seed Industry in East and Southern Africa (ASIESA). The initiative will take a coordinated approach to addressing the constraints to developing a vibrant commercial seed industry in East and Southern Africa, with the aim of improving the use of quality seed in the region. ASIESA will operate under the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) a non-profit organization which promotes the use of quality seed to improve agricultural production and therefore food security across Africa.

ASIEAs objectives include:
  • Enhancing company and seed value chain performance to ensure farmers have affordable, timely and reliable access to adapted genetics and traits in high quality seeds and planting materials
  • Effectively representing the interests of African seed value chain enterprises and industry in national, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and African agricultural development dialogue
  • Providing farmers with access to an improved choice of high quality seed as well as access to knowledge in how to use seeds to increase farm productivity.
The initiative is supported by CIMMYT, ICRISAT, CIP, CIAT, and Bioversity through Collective Actionís Flagship Program 3 on Conservation and Enhancement of Agricultural Biodiversity for Improved Agricultural Production. All are actively engaged in developing sustainable seed supply systems involving both public and private sector partners. A broad spectrum of other seed stakeholders are involved, including local and international companies and NGOs dealing with seed and other inputs and representative of the African Seed and Biotechnology Programme of the African Union.

AFSTA is currently finalizing a memorandum of understanding with COMESA to support seed regulatory harmonization in the COMESA region among other things. This will build on work already done through other programs that have involved CGIAR centers as an important source of germplasm for seed entrepreneurs.

The ASIESA initiative comes at a time when Flagship Program 3 is looking into the inadequate and often non-existent interaction between institutions responsible for the conservation of crops, trees, livestock and biodiversity as well as those organizations that use genetic resources to improve agricultural production. The program is also considering the interactions and trade-offs between enhanced and traditional genetic resources within the context of smallholder farmersí management systems of such resources at the community or landscape scale.

This new initiative provides a good opportunity for collective action between ASIESA, AFSTA, COMESA, the seed industry, seed value chain entrepreneurs and CG centers in the application of technology and relevant information to stakeholders for credible business and increased food security.

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