Seed Systems

Improved varieties have little value unless they are accessible and adopted by farmers.  About 85% of seed for the majority of crops in Uganda traded in the informal system. Farmers’ interest in purchasing good quality seed and adopting improved varieties is driven by a combination of factors, chief among which is access to attractive markets for their production.

The seed system program of MaRCCI is working on modalities to engage farmers in major sorghum and cowpea producing areas in order to map out the seed system and work with farmers towards consolidation of produce in order to obtain higher market prices, leading to improved viability of their increased production. This is expected to kindle interest in use of good quality seed and adoption of improved varieties, which in turn will attract seed companies to trade in seed of improved varieties of sorghum (and cowpea, we hope) supported by a well-organized seed system.There are few experts in seed science and seed systems in Uganda and many other SSA countries, while many trained specialists are needed to deal with the many diverse and important crops being grown on millions of small-holder farms scattered throughout the country.  MaRCCI is privileged to have a local expert, Dr. Sharon Tusiime, who obtained her PhD from Iowa State University in association with the world premier Seed Science Center.

Dr. Tusiime provides guidance to seed quality assurance of the thousands of seed samples in the research program, teaching courses on seed science and seed systems, and developing a program to identify and strengthen issues of seed identity and seed quality in the seed value chain.  Initially these efforts are focused on cowpea and sorghum, but the lessons learned in these crops will be adapted for many other crops.