To help steer seed sector development efforts in a sustainable direction, AfricaSeeds, the panafrican institutionmandated by the African Union (AU), is working towards a unique endeavour: launching an online knowledge platform exclusively dedicated to the African seed sector, the Seed Knowledge Gateway (SKG).

The Gateway will become a one-stop information-sharing platform involving diverse stakeholders, including national seed programs, regional and international organizations, farmer’s associations, and the private sector.

SKG partners will work together to enhance the measurement of seed sector performance, exchange knowledge, information and statistics, and share best practices to monitor, evaluate and enhance seed sector development.

“The planned Seed Knowledge Gateway is being designed as a web-based computerized data base that will make available to all development practitioners, data, information and knowledge on the seed sector that will aid in seed sector planning and operations on the continent” says Dr Kouame Miezan, Executive Director of AfricaSeeds and an active supporter of the initiative.

A step further in the creation of the Gateway

To mark the beginning of the preparatory phase AfricaSeeds, in collaboration with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), organized an Inception Workshop from 11 to 13 February 2019 in Akosombo, Ghana, to gain momentum on the creation of the SKG.

While the one-year preparatory phase aims at formulating the project document of the SKG , the workshop has been key to seek the views and inputs of participants, representing key stakeholders of the African seed sector, towards achieving an agreed vision of the modalities and outline of the implementation.

The workshop benefitted from participants’ contributions around roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder involved. The workshop met the main objective of securing validation of the methodologies proposed by AfricaSeeds’ consultants with respect to the definition of the deliverables of the preparatory phase. Particularly, the workshop achieved consensus on the all-important seed mapping and pointed the way towards further work by the consultants to determining the final seed mapping mechanism to be used by the consultants and national experts during the implementation of the main project.

A long-standing need

As stated by the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, quality seed are recognized as a major conduit for increasing crop productivity and resilience. As a matter of fact, the CAADP Results Framework aims at promoting and ensuring a high degree of seed security as a pathway towards the attainment of agricultural transformation and long-lasting food and nutrition security in Africa.

However, more should be done to achieve deeper understanding of seed sector development and more evidence-based decisions that will eventually improve seed security in Africa. This involves building a data and knowledge base, strengthening mechanisms of data gathering and sharing, supporting capacity building to analyse data and improving implementation capacity by all stakeholders.

Improved access to quality data and information will ease the reporting requirements on the African Seed and Biotechnology Program (ASBP) to AU Heads of State and Government, allow better planning and decision-making by Governments, development partners, farmers and many other stakeholders.

The demand for information on the seed sector in Africa is overwhelming. Appropriate and timely actions can be taken to improve a seed system if data are available. To monitor and evaluate progress, data and information are fundamental. For more accurate design, data on location, quantity and quality of demand of seeds is key. Potential investors, including entrepreneurs, need information to decide when, how and where to invest.

Responding to these needs through the implementation of a comprehensive online information and knowledge base will eventually allow seed systems to play they role of conduit for agricultural transformation and improved resilience on the African continent.

The preparatory phase of the SKG is made possible by the support received from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC).