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Farmers in Africa will now be able to grow more and better crops with the launch of a private public partnership that will tackle the shortage of quality seeds in Africa by making more improved seed varieties available at the right time and price.
NAIROBI, Kenya (14 March 2014): The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) supported by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) as part of its ‘Seeds2B’ programme has launched a new partnership to address the challenge of access to quality seed at the right time and place by seed companies and farmers in Africa. “Together, we aim to help seed technology owners license their products to African seed companies who will consequently avail them to farmers” explains AATF Executive Director, Dr. Denis T. Kyetere.
Africa’s population continues to increase much faster than local food production. One major reason is that few of the continent’s farmers have access to clean and healthy seed. “For many crops, the majority of smallholders rely on planting left-overs from the previous harvest”, says Dr. Ian Barker, Head of Agricultural Partnerships at SFSA. “Not only do they therefore miss out on new breeding developments, but old seed is often diseased and low yielding. As a result, crop yields and farm income remain far below their potential.”
“Great improvements are possible under this initiative” Dr. Kyetere points out. “There are many technologies available that could significantly increase Africa’s agricultural productivity. Getting these to farmers sustainably requires a functioning market, not charity hand-outs. AATF will act as a ‘seed technology broker’ where we will help national agricultural research systems and private breeders transfer their technologies to local companies in return for fair fees” Dr Kyetere adds.
The new Seeds2B partnership overcomes two bottlenecks that limit seed availability. “African researchers have developed many improved seed varieties”, explains Dr. Barker. “But they often have problems getting these out to farmers, because there are no easy mechanisms for sharing commercial benefits. In addition, technology owners both in Africa and outside need help in finding suitable seed company partners in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Seeds2B programme builds a reliable bridge between breeders and seed companies” Dr Barker says.
The programme currently focuses on Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania and seeks to expand the concept to Malawi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Liberia, Guinea, Chad, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and, Uganda in due course. Key crops to be addressed in this programme include staples like sorghum, millet, rice, cassava and potato, as well as higher-value items such as sesame, sunflower, groundnut and vegetables.
About AATF (http://www.aatf-africa.org/)
The African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF) is a not-for-profit organisation designed to access, develop, adapt and deliver appropriate agricultural technologies for sustainable use by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa through innovative partnerships and effective stewardship along the entire value chain. AATF provides expertise and know-how that facilitates the identification, access, development, delivery and utilisation of appropriate agricultural technologies. AATF works towards food security and poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa, and its structure and operations draw upon the best practices and resources of both the public and private sectors. AATF is a registered charity under the laws of England and Wales and has been given a tax-exempt status in the USA. It is incorporated in Kenya and in the UK and has been granted host country status by the Government of Kenya where it is headquartered and is registered as a charity in Nigeria.
About SFSA (www.syngentafoundation.org)
The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture creates value for resource-poor small farmers in developing countries through innovation in sustainable agriculture and the activation of value chains.
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