Lack of coordination and consultations in the seed sector had resulted in inadequate sharing of knowledge and information on policy, technical and marketing aspects in the seed industry. These had brought dysfunction in the regional seed harmonization and integration processes. Consequently, effective planning and estimation of seed demand and supply, based on informed decision had being lacking, which had resulted in the low use of certified seeds in the region. CORAF/WECARD Strategic Plan (2007-2016) is of the conviction that the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) paradigm and the Innovation Platform approach are the best mechanisms to address constraints in the commodity value-chains for growth through a community of practice. Thus the Alliance for Seed Industry in West Africa (ASIWA), serves as a sustainable, inclusive, effective platform to facilitate consultation and dialogue among West African seed industry actors, enable expanded cooperation between public and private seed stakeholders, and drive collaborative learning to expand production, supply and use of quality seed in West Africa. Prior to the launching of ASIWA, three regional stakeholder meetings had been held between 2013 and 2014 and national consultations in nine countries during 2015. The regional consultations, engaged the ECOWAS, UEMOA, CILSS, Hub-Rural, USAID, CORAF/WECARD AfricaRice, IITA, ICRISAT, AGRA, AfricaSeeds, ROPPA, AFSTA, etc. to adopt the concept of a regional alliance. In a similar vein, the country level consultations resulted in the adoption of the national concept.
The consultations in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo brought together 316 individuals representing the prospective Alliance Stakeholders with 48% from the private sector and 52% from the public sector. Ahead of the launching on 3rd and 4th August, 2015 in Abidjan, the WASP since its inception in 2012 had supported the strengthening of capacities of 874 Small and Medium Seed Entrepreneurs in technical and agri-business management, marketing, access to credit, etc. The CORAF/WECARD-WASP support to the establishment of the Africa Seed Trade Association-West Africa (AFSTA-WA) and in strengthening the organizational capacity of the National Seed Trade Associations, had prepared the private sector for effective engagement and dialogue in the process. The high participation of International, Regional and National Technical and Financial Partners totaling 120, at the launching signified the commitment of these partners to lift the regional seed industry to a higher level. The wide media coverage at the launching created extensive global awareness of ASIWA for a strong take-off, guided by an action plan and a roadmap developed. The rigorous consultative processes therefore facilitated stakeholder understanding and buy-in of the Alliance. The process has helped build a strong foundation for the Regional Alliance and National Affiliates. Stakeholders agreed that a Seed Alliance with strong national roots and a good mix with the regional and international stakeholders is the best mechanism to accelerate seed industry development in West Africa. An electronic seed market platform www.waxis.net created for the Alliance and a common e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org linking seed sector stakeholders are enhancing information exchange and seed marketing online. In effect, the Alliance is private sector led and is a convening point for seed sector stakeholders, a communication hub and a market facilitation and industry Development platform.