A workshop to validate a seed toolkit training guide

A validation workshop of the Seed Operations Toolkit was held in Abidjan from 14 to 18 November 2016. The meeting was attended by 27 experts from 21 African countries and regional centers.

Designed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with AfricaSeeds, the training Toolkit covers essential elements of the seed value chain. Currently being finalized, this guidance material will consist of a total of six modules. The first four modules validated during the workshop were: Module 1: Development of small-scale seed enterprises; Module 2: Seed Conditioning Equipment and Practice; Module 3: Seed Quality Control and Certification; and Module 4: Seed Sector Regulation.

The workshop took place over five days. The first four days were devoted to interactive presentations and group work led by seed experts from FAO and some African countries. As appropriate, the workshop material was made available in English and French. On the last day, participants had the opportunity to visit a seed enterprise.

Upon their return to their countries, the participants are expected to conduct follow-up trainings to pass on the acquired knowledge to seed producers and dealers. “We expect participants to be well equipped to train seed stakeholders and create a multiplier effect. Because AfricaSeeds has a continental mandate, all its actions are designed for large-scale impact” said Dr. Kouamé Miezan, the Executive Director of AfricaSeeds and organizer of the workshop.

Visit to a seed enterprise

After the theoretical part of the training, the participants went to Tiassalé (106 km from Abidjan) to visit the plots of a seed micro-enterprise, the Société de Productions Végétales (SPV). This practical session has been essential as, according to Dr. Miézan, “the future of the seed sector in Africa will have to rely on seed enterprises”.

During the visit, participants learnt about the experience of the micro-enterprise. They were also asked to verify, in the light of the training received, whether the structure met the standards for quality seed production. They were told about some of the challenges faced by SPV and the solutions adopted to address them. The Director of SPV, Koutou Assémien, took the opportunity to request additional support from the government of Côte d’Ivoire and AfricaSeeds in order to contribute to a more efficient Ivorian seed sector.

The Seed Operation Toolkit validation workshop allowed to gather feedback on contents and methodologies and to strengthen participants’ capacities. The meeting has also been an opportunity for AfricaSeeds to forge closer ties with its member countries. It aimed at nurturing privileged relationships with the National Seed Program officers who participated in the workshop. These officials, most of whom may act as National Focal Points for AfricaSeeds, were able to better understand AfricaSeeds’ mandate and objectives and its operational strategy.

The participants unanimously agreed on the relevance and applicability of the training modules. The participants also expressed keenness and desire in conducting follow-up training using the Toolkit. By doing so, in coordination and synergy with AfricaSeeds, they will contribute to the needs of the seed sector in Africa in a more effective way.