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About ISSD Africa

Lack of access to quality seed is one of the most pressing issues hindering productivity increase in Africa. ISSD Africa (established in 2012) is an international community of practice, guiding seed sector innovation and development on the African continent to alleviate the problem of limited access to quality seed. Addressing complex seed sector challenges of continental importance will result in better performing seed sectors with increased access to quality seed, of varieties that farmers prefer. This will have a positive impact on food and nutritional security and on farmer income.

ISSD Africa aims to:

  • become a true community of practice with visibility for all contributing partners, a strong sharing of responsibilities among international and African partners, strengthened African ownership and diversification of funding and leadership
  • be the initiator, facilitator and communicator of learning about effective seed sector intervention, management and policies in Africa
  • offer a simple and easy to access and use website for seed sector professionals with the ambition to realise seed sector innovation in Africa, to ensure inclusive access to quality seed of farmer- and consumer-desired varieties
  • provide the structure to co-create, experiment, learn and exchange how to address complex seed sector challenges, with a focus on seed sector innovation in Africa
  • ensure that the latest insights and expertise on seed sector development are available to governments, projects and programmes intervening to improve access to quality seed.

ISSD Africa phases

Click the plus signs below to read more on the ISSD Africa phases.

ISSD Africa 2010 – 2013

ISSD Africa was initiated in 2010 as a multi-country programme to analyse seed sector functioning and provide recommendations for improved performance. The programme was initiated in response to the realisation that for the development of the seed sectors of African countries, a different approach was required from those that were often applied. The studies in nine different countries provided insight in the diversity of seed systems that exist and that function in parallel to respond to the diverse needs of farmers for quality seed of different crops. The programme resulted in the publication of country studies, and the initiation of debate on desired seed sector changes which would result in better catering for the diversity of needs of agricultural producers. In two communiqués, developed during ISSD Africa events in 2011 and 2013, the African Union Commission (AUC) endorsed the ISSD approach as a pluralistic approach to seed sector development, required to optimally serve objectives of food security, economic development and biodiversity through entrepreneurship in Africa. Based on the country studies, the ISSD guiding principles for the design of seed sector projects and programmes were elaborated as a summary of the ISSD approach.

ISSD Africa 2014 – 2017

In 2014 a second phase of ISSD Africa started, where we partnered with an array of seed sector development initiatives for dialogues on and learning about effective seed sector interventions, management and policies, using the ISSD principles as an entry point for discussion. ISSD Africa facilitated co-learning, communication and collaboration among a wide range of existing national and regional seed programmes. Collaboration in different forms and shapes reached the seed sector development community in 14 countries, and involved international and regional seed sector development organisations, projects and programmes, such as the AUC, AGRA, CORAF, WASP, GIZ, Dutch-funded seed programmes in Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Kenya and Mozambique, the Syngenta Foundation, CABI, CRS, Bioversity, CIP, CIAT, CIMMYT, IITA, ASARECA, RENAPRI, AFSTA, COMESA, AFAAS, the World Bank and IFAD. Even more importantly, the programme brought together national partners, too numerous to mention, in national debates on complex issues in seed sector intervention in 10 African countries. By collaborating with these programmes at national, regional and continental level, ISSD Africa activities have been grounded in the local realities of the seed sector and have created synergy in seed sector development.

In its second phase, ISSD Africa action learning focussed on seeking African solutions to complex challenges of strategic importance in:

  • promoting seed entrepreneurship
  • increasing access to varieties from the public domain
  • matching global commitments with national realities
  • supporting seed sector development under CAADP and ASBP

The action learning programmes involved piloting and documentation of experience in 14 countries. Results were debated in national and international workshops, and published in 9 synthesis papers.

Topics addressed by ISSD Africa 2014 – 2017Making business out of low profit seed

  • Effective mechanisms for seed quality control
  • Finance options for seed business
  • Sustainable supply of foundation seed
  • Agreements for access to public varieties
  • Variety information for seed producers
  • A differentiated approach to plant variety protection
  • ABS policies for climate resilient seed systems
  • Seed laws that promote an integrated seed sector
  • CAADP and national investments in the seed sector
  • Assessing progress in the seed sector in terms of CAADP indicators

More information

Please find more information regarding the outcomes of previous ISSD Africa phases, such as synthesis papers, thematic reviews, and a video on our ISSD guiding principles, on our resources page.



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