Ethiopian success informs high-level global seed sector development gathering

Ethiopian seed sector stakeholders, supported by ISSD Ethiopia, have been transforming the national seed sector. Their successes have not gone unnoticed and during a recent international workshop held at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa, ISSD Ethiopia shared its lessons learned, hoping to inspire similar transformations in other countries.

On Friday 17th May, an international multi-stakeholder workshop on Seed Systems Development was workshop was organized alongside the CGIAR systems council meeting and the kick-off meeting for the NL-CGIAR seed systems development research projects. The workshop was organized by CGIAR, the Government of the Netherlands, USAID, ISSD Africa, The Food & Business Knowledge Platform and AgriProFocus.

The purpose of the workshop was to identify successes in tackling systemic bottlenecks to the functioning of seed systems.

Following Ethiopia’s lead

Dr. Mohammed Hassena, Deputy Manager of ISSD Ethiopia, was invited to share the programme’s successes and lessons learned with the workshop participants. Highlighting some specific innovations during the programme’s ten years of operation, Dr. Hassena also shared recent advances in higher-level policy and regulatory efforts.

The ISSD-driven seed sector transformation agenda, formulated through the National Seed Advisory Group and endorsed and adopted by the Federal Government was presented and received with great enthusiasm.

The process of forming the agenda exemplified the multi-stakeholder approach needed for the development of sustainable and inclusive seed sectors. Participants heard how since 2017, ISSD has been, at the request of Government, facilitating a broad array of public and private stakeholders to identify and assess strategic options to deliver a shared vision of the seed sector. Not only had this process yielded a transformation agenda, but also a contribution to the draft seed policy and amendments to the 2013 seed proclamation.

Reflecting on key lessons

Such achievements are hard won and Dr. Hassena was able to share some wisdom with participants.

Firstly, in their seed sector thinking and activities, participants should embrace systemic change, taking a shared vision of the future as a point of departure. Focusing on today’s problems may not deliver the systemic changes needed for a sustainable future, especially if programmes address symptoms and not root causes.

Secondly, the importance of adaptive management was highlighted. Timing is everything and programmes need to be reflexive to emerging opportunities, responsive to shifting realities and inclusive to diverse stakeholder priorities.

Thirdly, investing in social capital is essential. Being present in the field as much as in the boardroom is needed to gain the trust and confidence of sector players, who all need to acknowledge that transformation is a long game which needs long term commitments.

Debating the way forward

The rest of the workshop saw the presentation of posters on different methods and research trajectories, as well as an energetic, ISSD Africa-facilitated panel debate on institutional arrangements’ impact on realizing the potential of improved varieties.


PPT Dr. Mohammed Hassena, ISSD Deputy Programme Manager: Please download the presentation here (PDF).

Article Food & Knowledge Business Platform:

ISSD Africa: