Measuring seed sector performance

Key challenge

Lack of access to quality seed is one of the main issues hindering sustainable agricultural productivity increase in Africa. This has led to an increasing demand for accurate and timely information on seed sector performance among a range of stakeholders in Africa, including the African Union Commission, NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency, national governments, regional economic communities, private sector actors, development agencies, farmers’ federations and donor organisations. Consequently, there is a diversity of frameworks and indicators to assess different performance aspects, but information remains fragmented and incomplete.

There are several reasons why the measurement of seed sector performance in Africa remains a problem that should be pursued more vigorously: there are different interests and perspectives to performance by different stakeholders including governments, research institutions, industries and civil society; seed sector performance is understood in the context of achieving different goals such as trade, export, income generation, food security, nutrition, resilience, agrobiodiversity, social inclusion, the enabling environment, etc.; multiple indices and frameworks for performance measurement of the seed sector already exist; given that there are many common, but also different indicators of performance, the information available appear fragmented as a result; while there’s the desire to consolidate common indicators into universal frameworks for seed sector performance measurement, there is also the need to preserve unique accents to performance measurement using supplementary indicators.

Action learning questions

  1. From the wide range available, what indicators are useful for whom and why? Including in assessing the contribution intra-regional trade can make, but also for food and nutrition security, gender, and agrobiodiversity conservation, and the crops and varieties relevant to those objectives to reflect the different seed systems farmers get seed from and the quality they obtain from these sources.
  2. How can we ensure that these indicators are applied particularly for decision making at national levels including seed policies? Including within CAADP, RECs and national governments.

Activities and outcomes

This action learning project will take inventory of existing indicators applied (both quantitative and qualitative), including CAADP, TASAI, ATSI, Agrobiodiversity Index, EBA, COMSIS, Big Data Platform, B&MGF Dashboard, and others, try to modularize indicators (e.g. core, gender, agrobiodiversity) and prepare methodological guides for measurement also indicating common reliable sources of data. The action learning project will also contribute to the development/revision of frameworks for seed sector performance measurement with RECs and at national level, and assess/generate the demand and business case for establishing an African platform/portal/service for performance measurement, for advising on how to measure performance, sharing data and statistics on performance and in addressing other requests of stakeholders.

By the end of the action learning project a situation is envisaged in which indicators, which reflect the reality on the ground, are measured accurately and used by different stakeholders to guide seed sector development.