Webinar: COVID-19 responses highlight need for structural seed sector reform

Check back soon to see the recording and hear how short term actions on COVID-19 provided lessons for longer term ambitions for seed sector transformation.

This webinar took place on December 1st 2020


Over the past months, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across countries in Africa. There has been deep concern about the impact on lives and livelihoods. Seed sector functioning has been disrupted at all levels with immediate and long lasting consequences still emerging.

Responses to the pandemic have been diverse. Communities, associations, companies, governments and coalitions continue to learn about what the restrictions and responses mean for future seed sector transformation ambitions.

In this webinar, you will hear from three diverse collaborative experiences:

Wageningen University and Research and partners in multiple countries mobilised quickly to perform a series of rapid assessments to chart emerging constraints and coping mechanisms.

In Nigeria, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) led the initial response, serving as the linking pin for assessing the evolving situation and providing relevant and timely support to stakeholders and decision-makers.

Rijk Zwaan, an international seed company enountered new and unexpected barriers to business as a result of the rapidly escalating problems inside and across the borders of multiple countries.

The webinar will chart the stories and major insights from these experiences, picking out how success was achieved, but also how current structural seed sector constraints contributed to the problems encountered.

An interactive panel discussion will look into proposed innovations and solutions to advance seed sector transformation and improve functioning while the pandemic persists.

Meet the speakers

Mr. Folarin Sunday Okelola (PhD-in view)
National Agricultural Seeds Council, Nigeria.
I am an agricultural seed science and development expert with more than 16 years’ seed industry coordination and management experience across several countries of the world. My career focus has been on improving crop productivity through seed technologies, seed industry development, private sector engagement in seeds business and promotion of the introduction of Plant Variety Protection (PVP) in the country.

Among several programmes that I am currently leading are (i) the introduction of an electronic authentication system to aid seed tracking and traceability (ii) introduction of a law on PVP in Nigeria (iii) the establishment of an Early Generation Seed Production outfit for quality EGS production (iv) and the introduction of a National Seed Tracker for real time management of seed production activities along the entire seed value chain(v) the development of an electronic seed demand forecasting tool. I have also managed several agricultural projects for national, regional and international organizations like the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), the National Agricultural Seeds Council, and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Mr. Marcus Burnett
Area Manager, Rijk Zwaan Export B.V.
I studied Horticultural Science at the then University of Natal in South Africa, and I still live in South Africa. I have been working in the vegetable seed sector for over 25 years. For the last 18 years I have been working for Rijk Zwaan, and currently, I am responsible as Area Manager for the commercial activities in a number of East and Southern African countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia.

In these countries we work through a network of distributors, and I support them in developing and promoting the assortment, arranging importation of goods, giving technical advice and some training to growers. I believe strongly that vegetables should be a very important part of any agricultural policy frameworks once they offer not only nutritional security but also an income.

I believe that every farmer should be allowed to make choices and  plans that are best suited to individual needs, rather than those that are imposed by policy or by external circumstance.

Dr. Walter de Boef
Senior Advisor, Seed Systems, Wageningen University & Research
Walter de Boef is Senior Advisor Seed Systems with the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) with more than 30 years of experience in smallholders agricultural development. He has a MSc in Plant Breeding and PhD in Communication and Innovation Studies both from Wageningen University.

Walter has co-developed approaches that include Integrated Seed Sector Development and Community Biodiversity Management, on which he has been publishing several books and scientific papers. Walter facilitates (international) multi-stakeholder workshops and courses and collaboratively designs and implements international seed, biodiversity and agricultural development programmes.

Recommended reading

Rapid Assessments Synthesis Paper