Seed Sector Offers Unprecedented Opportunities for Women in Africa

Although complex and facing enormous challenges, the African seed sector offers unprecedented opportunities for women.

Mr. Kouamé Miezan, Executive Director of AfricaSeeds —an intergovernmental seed organization and implementing agency of the African Union seed program— presented this analysis during a regional training workshop on quality seeds production, seeds business management, gender and women’s leadership, organized in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) from this April 11 to 15, 2022, by CORAF.

This capacity building and experience sharing space was the place for AfricaSeeds’ Executive Director to present an overview of the seed sector in Africa.

“The African seed sector is complex, with a cohabitation of formal and informal systems. However, in Africa, seeds contribute for 20 to 40% to agricultural productivity and despite numerous interventions across the continent, the results obtained do not yet meet expectations,” said Mr. Miezan.

Indeed, several challenges constitute bottlenecks to the effective emergence of the seed sector on the continent.

Among these challenges, the expert notes inadequate policies and marketing of seeds, shortcomings in the development and deployment of varieties, insufficient support for small-scale seed entrepreneurs, low valuation of the informal seed sector, and the issue of the interests of women and youth.

Women’s Place in Seed Sector

Far from being inevitable, it is possible to meet these challenges by activating certain development levers of the seed sector in Africa, according to Mr. Miezan.

Plus, they offer countless opportunities to women who are struggling to make a place for themselves.

AfricaSeeds’ Executive Director believes that concrete actions to bring more women in the seed sector are paramount to the emergence of a dynamic and prosperous seed sector.

“There is a need to mobilize women for a more aggressive and effective contribution to the development of the African seed sector, enabling them to value more their expertise in their traditional and essential interventions in the sector,” he said.

“There is a gap to be filled in the seed sector and this is a real opportunity for women, who were already not that well represented,” commented Dr. Mariame Maïga, Regional Gender and Social Development Advisor at CORAF.

This training workshop is precisely in line with CORAF’s gender policy and strategy, which aims to ensure that all efforts deployed for agricultural research and development in West and Central Africa are oriented to have equitably beneficial impacts for both men and women.

“With this training which is in line with its gender policy and strategy, CORAF wishes to build the capacity of women and empower them to further prosper in the seed sector,” added Dr. Maïga.

The workshop is part of the activities of the Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development in West Africa (PAIRED) program.

PAIRED is a five-year intervention of CORAF that began in 2017, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Regional Mission for West Africa.