SeEdQUAL/ Supporting One CGIAR with the establishment of a Product development process

Crops of focus: Transversal
Countries of focus: Transversal

Although $1 billion is invested into public breeding every year, less than 10% of the varieties that farmers grow are from modern, improved varieties. The low-rate of varietal turnover signifies that smallholders often recycle seeds or use older varieties, leaving them more vulnerable to pests and diseases, but also market demands. In order to address these circumstances, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) has launched the initiative SeEdQUAL (2023-2024), in partnership with One CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research). The project aims to support the delivery of seeds of improved, climate-resilient and market-preferred priority crops to improve the standards of life of all farmers.

The successful commercialization of new varieties requires the establishment of a coordinated, demand-led and data-based product development process. While methodical processes are extensively used in the private sector with a coordination that integrates market research, R&D, production and marketing functions, it is has been challenging to adopt a similar approach within the public sector, especially in developing countries. Generally, the public sector is heavily involved in R&D and the production of early-stage seed classes, whereas the private sector takes on commercial seed production. When it comes to marketing and other market development efforts, these are in majority supported by NGOs.

Seeds2B has partnered with the Genetic Innovation initiatives of One CGIAR (SeEdQual action area), and is undertaking the task of supporting partnerships (including with smallholders) and capacity building. By providing technical assistance to national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) and foundation seed organisations, we aspire to improve early-generation seed production and on-farm demonstrations. The scope of the project encompassed soybeans in Zambia, Potatoes and Rice in Kenya, common beans for Tanzania, Wheat in Ethiopia and Rice, Sorghum or Millet in Senegal.

Our partnership started with an evaluation of One CGIAR centers’ existing product advancement process. This assessment was conducted by interviewing key personnel involved in the process to determine the methods and the approaches employed within the center. These findings were then compared with the industry’s best practices for the purpose of developing recommendations for improvement.

In parallel to this initiative, Seeds2B is developing training material on how to prepare and run an effective product advancement meeting. This material will then be used by product research leads at the CGIAR centers to implement these processes effectively and smoothly. Furthermore, Seeds2B has offered to provide support for product advancement meetings led by One CGIAR, when requested.

Finally, Seeds2B has also been engaged to conduct a study on the drivers of demand for publicly bred varieties, with an ultimate goal to increase varietal turnover of key cereal and legume crops in farmers’ fields. We started this phase of the project with a pilot study in Kenya with a focus on maize crops, with the aim of conducting similar studies for other crops and countries part of the SeEdQUAL program.


Objectives & Outline

As One CGIAR has started its transformational journey towards the global adoption of a unique demand-led and data-based product advancement process, Seeds2B’s objective is to facilitate the achievement of that goal by bringing its expertise from the industry to the OneCG Genetic Innovation team.


Specific objectives

  • To understand in scope the current product advancement process at the CGIAR and NARS centers. This will constitute the baseline to identify opportunities for improvement.

  • To demonstrate the best practices used in the industry by creating and providing training material on the best practices in executing an effective product advancement meeting.

  • To support and participate upon request in actual product advancement meetings coordinated by CGIAR and NARS in the context of the project.

  • To assess the drivers of demand for publicly bred varieties of crops in the countries of focus underlined in the program.

By the end of this capacity-building project, we will have developed snapshots of the Product Advancement (PAM) process of 8 One CGIAR centers. In these evaluations, there will be recommended areas of improvement and proposals of actions that can be taken to address them. This will then ensure that the centers will establish a product advancement process that is based on the best practices in the industry and that are adapted to their context.

The scope of work is Zambia Soybean, Kenya Potato, Kenya Rice,Tanzania common beans, Ethiopia Wheat, Senegal Rice, Sorghum or Millet.