Evaluating progress and identifying the way forward in Eastern Oromia

While much progress has been made through collaborative activities facilitated by ISSD Ethiopia, a multi-stakeholder session highlighted more needs to be done to strengthen the seed sector.

Multiple BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia programme components give specific focus to demonstrating and promoting new and improved varieties of seed, supporting local seed business development, and enhancing performance of seed value chain.

Under each component of the programme, the ISSD Oromia East Unit works to improve the technical, organizational and financial capacities of farmers, farmers groups and SPCs, from providing training, supervision and monitoring, to direct support to SPCs and their scaling partners.

To evaluate the performance of partners supporting these different programme activities, as well as facilitate discussion on current seed production status and certified and EGS seed production in the region, the unit conducted a two day workshop from April 2-3, 2018 at Ras Hotel, Harar city.

A total of 40 attendees, representing different organizations from Haramaya and Oda Bultum universities, Chercher Oda Bultum Union, Fedis Agricultural Research Center, East and West Hararghe Zones Cooperative Agencies and Woreda Cooperative Agencies from (Babile, Kersa, Habro, Oda Bultum and Mieso) participated on the workshop.

Prof., Chemeda Fininsa, President of Haramaya University (HU) opened the workshop. On his opening speech, he indicated that “different challenges are present in the access to quality seed in the country such as lack of information on quality seed at farmers’ level, limited access to quality seed by farmers, and neglecting important food security crops by public organization and private companies. To ensure farmers access to locally preferred crop varieties ISSD project is integrating different seed sector components (formal, informal, and intermediate). He emphasized on integration of seed sector stakeholders is very important.”

The workshop agendas covered different activities under informal seed system, LSB development, value chain development, and knowledge sharing and capacity development.

Institutionalization of seed certification center at the University, sustainable supply of basic seeds in the zones, low commitment of zones Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BOANR) to participate and institutionalize regional seed core group platform, low commitment of partners to implement piloting innovations, inefficient and unreliable seed demand assessment, weak seed marketing system, and lack of seed infrastructure (seed cleaning, processing, packaging and mini-laboratory for internal seed quality test mechanism) and weak collaboration and cooperation from woreda BOANR and cooperative agency were main challenges raised during this presentation.

In addition, key focus of 2018 such as variety promotion through crowd sourcing approach, strengthening organizational and financial capacities of seed producers cooperatives (SPCs), piloting conventional seed marketing, installing two post-harvest seed cleaning machines in East and West Hararghe zones, and establishing two mini-laboratories for quality seed test in East and West Hararghe zones were indicated in a plenary presentation.

In the workshop different project components presented their respective performances, evaluation and future focus areas. Accordingly, Fedis Agricultural Research Centre, Mechara Agricultural Research Centre, and Haramaya University Farm Management Unit made presentations on sustainable supply of early generation seeds. East and West Hararghe zones BOANR presented activity report on quality seed production and other capacity building activities such as training, field clustering and inspection activities.

HU-seed quality control and certification center also made presentation regarding achievements and challenges of seed certification process as well as various roles of the center such as providing guidelines and standard quality seed production, field level inspection, sample collection procedures in line with seed laws and regulations. Some challenges such as seed quality problems due to lack of seed infrastructure (value addition, store standardization, seed processing technologies), poor facilitations from seed producers and their partners, lack of pre-planning have been indicated during this session.

From all the plenary presentations and reflections of performance evaluation such as the contribution of BENEFIT-ISSD project and partners, the capital of SPCs and improved infrastructure development; improvements on individual income and livelihood of cooperative members were forwarded as positive feedbacks. Despite this achievements, different bottlenecks including limited technical and managerial skills of cooperatives, weak cooperation and collaboration among partners and stakeholders, weak seed marketing system, lack of seed data management (production, demand and supply), limited access to pre-basic and basic seeds, limited post-harvest seed processing technologies, limited participation of women in SPCs, weak transparent audit services of SPCs are being negatively impacting the business of quality seeds.

To solve the aforementioned bottlenecks and challenges, BENEFIT-ISSD project, Oromia East unit was made presentation on target intervention in 2018 to improve efficiency of seed sector development in east and west Hararghe zones. The target focuses indicated are improving efficiency of conventional seed marketing system for 2018, business plan development for certified and basic seeds production for 2018, and support needed for this joint action plan and responsible bodies to own and ensure the implementation was presented. Based on this focuses of 2018, partners and stakeholders were grouped in east and west Hararghe clusters and developed joint action plan. To ensure implementation of this joint action plan, regional seed core group emerged into two streams (i.e. steering committee consisting heads and officials and technical committee platform). This aimed to periodically evaluate implementation of the plan to avoid problems encountered the busy nature of higher officials.