By: Victor Emeruwa
Africa’s food systems have been moved more than an inch from almost non existing structure for seed production to investing in more than 110 seed companies, Africa Green Revolution in Africa, AGRA is keeping its goal to assist in advancing African Agricultural systems, INFACTNG has learnt.
“AGRA investment in Africa is providing opportunities that farmers in other parts of the world take for granted” says Andrew Cox, AGRA’s Chief of Staff and Strategy.
Cox noted that AGRA’s investment is not from top to bottom as people question its engagement with blue chip organizations and big research institutions instead of reaching out to smallholder farmers which is at the core of its programs mandate.
He argues that AGRA is investing in smallholder farmers and stakeholders in Africa food system to make quick progress and advancement in food sufficiency in the continent.
“We have invested in and built up over 110 seed companies, 11 of which are in Nigeria alone. In many cases, before AGRA invested, there were no seeds at all, meaning they had to be imported (wrong quality, wrong specificity to the land etc)” Cox said.
The investment in establishing seed companies has led to production of over 700,000 tonnes of seed. This investment allows for choices and options for farmers: “By giving farmers choice, wherever possible from local companies, we see sustainable growth happening” said AGRA Chief of Staff and Strategy.
AGRA’s strategy is also to help enable national seed regulatory agencies in African countries where such institutionalized system was lacking. They are supporting The National Seed Council to go fully digital in other to expand seed quality and combat counterfeit. This effort has helped reduce reported incidences of seed counterfeit in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Southern Africa.
AGRA is also helping to establish Early Generation Seeds (EGS) across the continent, which is already witnessing growth in Soyabean production. Part of its support for governments are strengthening of legislative frameworks, one of the laws passed is the Plant Variety Protection Law. “The Plant Variety Protection Law allows private seed inspectors address shortage of government inspectors” Cox said.