Creating Fair chances for seed access
Knowledge is a crucial step to improvement. That’s as true in the seeds market as in many other areas. Seed Fairs give smallholders a great chance to see varieties that could raise their yield and income. Our Nigerian team recently co-hosted three such events.
“Food scarcity is on the rise here”, says our Country Program Manager-Nigeria, Isaiah Gabriel. “That makes it more important than ever that smallholders get access to good seeds.” As part of this process, SFSA-Nigeria and partners* in the international AVISA** project recently organized Seed Fairs for over 1000 farmers. “Our aim was to increase their awareness of new varieties, the first step to broader adoption”, Isaiah comments.
The events took place at Farmers’ Hubs in two communities in Kano State and one in Jigawa. “The timing was good”, explains our new Seeds2B manager in Nigeria, Ephraim Manga. “Farmers are currently pushing hard for our National Assembly to pass three important ag-related bills, including a new Seed Act.”
Isaiah Gabriel told Seed Fair participants: “AVISA aims to facilitate the commercialization and adoption of specific varieties of cowpea and sorghum. The idea is to build a sustainable seed and grain ecosystem in Nigeria”. He urged local seed companies to take advantage of the opportunities created by Farmers’ Hubs. These Agriservices centers both sell seeds and aggregate grains for outputs market
Professor Lucky Omoigui, a seed system specialist from IITA, explained that AVISA has two phases. “First comes the breeding; second is the seed system”, he said. Importantly, Omoigui noted, improved varieties enable bigger harvests without needing extra farmland.
AVISA can bring even more benefits, however. National Coordinator Professor Mary Yeye emphasized how new seeds and better agronomic practices can improve smallholders’ lives. If all goes as planned, this “will automatically translate into increased income and improved standards of living.”
Further speakers included IITA’s Dr. A.Y Kamara as well as Drs. Ignatius Angarawai, Ajeigbe Hakeem and Michael Vabi from ICRISAT. Sorghum breeder Professor Daniel Abba and his groundnut colleague S.G. Mohammed from Bayero University, Kano, underlined how improvements in their chosen crops will increase seed availability and smallholders’ productivity.
The Fairs were also hands-on: several seed companies and research institutes displayed and sold seeds. “Farmers were able to choose from a good range of groundnut, rice, maize, sorghum, cowpea, soybeans, millet, watermelon, and tomatoes”, says Ephraim Manga. “The events created a lot of awareness and demand.”
Local village heads commended our Foundation and its AVISA partners for hosting the Fairs. The organizers took appropriate Covid safety precautions.
- Our AVISA partners in Nigeria are the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), University of Agriculture Makurdi (UAM), Center for Dryland Agriculture (CDA-BUK) and the Kano Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA).
- AVISA = Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa