Towards the ‘Privatization’ of the Seed Industry in West Africa

In view of increasing the role of the private sector in the production and distribution of seeds in West Africa, a gathering of decisive players in the industry will hold on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, in Dakar, Senegal.

For two days, West African seed sector actors including key stakeholders from governments, the private sector, research organization, farmer groups, and non-governmental organizations shall examine the best ways possible to spin-off the seed sector to private businesses.

“Our assumption is based on the understanding that facilitating the involvement of the private sector in crucial aspects of the production and distribution of certified seeds will have a positive impact on increased use of quality seeds and its attendant effect on food production in the region” says Dr. Abdulai Jalloh, Director of Research and Innovation at the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF).

CORAF has been mandated by the Economic Community of West African States to coordinate activities related to seeds. This resulted in the establishment of the Alliance for Seed Industry in West Africa (ASIWA) and the West Africa Seed Committee (WASC/COASem).

“We are fully aware of the pitfalls and inefficiencies related to the commercializing a critical sector as seeds. But if we build the right partnerships, create the right environment, and enabling policies, there is a huge chance to unleash the potential of the private sector with significant long-term impacts on productivity and the food and nutrition security of the people of West Africa,” says Dr. Jalloh.

Considerable efforts have been ongoing in West Africa to strengthen the seed sector in recent years. After facilitating the adoption of a common seed regulation framework by most West African countries as well as developing a seed catalog, actors are now working towards the greater involvement of the private sector in all aspect of the development of the sector.

At another recent gathering of seed actors in West Africa, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) called for the greater involvement of more private sector actors in the industry.

“The real success of what we are doing in the development of the seed sector will be measured in many ways including the uninterrupted flow of quality seeds across borders by business persons at the start of each planting season,” said Ms. Shirley Erves Kore, Advisor to the West Africa Mission of USAID.

As part of its support to agriculture in West Africa, USAID funds projects intended to facilitate the availability of important agri-inputs to farmers. After supporting the West Africa Seed Program, USAID and CORAF are now collaborating to implement another five-year intervention known as the Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development. PAIRED’s primary development objective is to make available quality seeds to producers and farmers as well as facilitate the uptake of related technologies.

Specifically, the Dakar gathering expects to achieve the following:

  • Improve the knowledge of stakeholder on the of the principles and functioning arrangement of ASIWA and garner greater ownership;
  • Define actions to spin off ASIWA to the private sector;
  • Propose mechanisms for the sustainable funding of ASIWA including the creation of a secretariat.