AATF announces establishment of the first foundation seed production entity for Africa

Left: Captain James Karanja, Freshco Seeds Kenya Ltd. CEO, comments on importance of QBS to seed companies during the Press briefing.

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) on Monday, 30 January 2017, announced the establishment of the first Early Generation (foundation) seed production entity in Sub-Saharan Africa to effectively and efficiently supply high quality foundation seed for small and medium enterprise (SME) seed companies on the continent. The entity, to be known as QualiBasic Seed, will be based in Nairobi, Kenya, and has received an initial five year investment of US$ 8.4 Million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Making the announcement at a media briefing in Nairobi, the AATF Executive Director Dr Denis Kyetere said that QualiBasic was established to address the acute technical, infrastructural and financial challenges the seed companies face in the maintenance, multiplication and timely supply of quality foundation seed, critically essential to improve farm productivity by small holder farmers. Low access and use of poor quality foundation seed by seed companies result in low crop yields and crop failure in some cases for the small holder farmers, affecting sustainable food production and costing the continent a valuable development opportunity.

Enock Chikava, Deputy Director - Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said the foundation’s investment in QualiBasic helps small holder farmers, especially women, realize the full genetic gains of climate resilient crop varieties developed through public research and development.

‘Huge investments have been made by donors through various global public crop improvement programs for the benefit of African farmers. These breeding programs have released high yielding and very adaptable crop varieties, for example, maize hybrids, that offer high productivity opportunities. However, the benefits of these products are yet to be realized by smallholder farmers due to delayed seed production in some cases and low quality seed in others,’ said Chikava.

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