Linking Agricultural Research Center with Seed Producer Cooperatives Farmers for Solving Seed Value Chain Bottlenecks

Reader Impact Factor Score
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

Published on International Journal of Agriculture & Agribusiness
Publication Date: December, 2019

Kibret Ketema, Solomon Ayele, Abdulaziz Teha & Jemal Nur
Oromia Agricultural Research Institute, Fedis Agricultural Research Centre
P.O. Box 904, Harar, Ethiopia

Journal Full Text PDF: Linking Agricultural Research Center with Seed Producer Cooperatives Farmers for Solving Seed Value Chain Bottlenecks (Studied in East Hararghe Zone of Oromia Region, Ethiopia).

Abstract
Seed system in East Hararghe Zone was observed to be complex and inefficient due to lack of sustainable seed supply system, and linkage problem among seed value chain actors in the area. The role of Agricultural Research Centres and other partners is observed to be vital in developing sustainable seed supply system in the area. In line with this, Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) farmers based seed production and marketing was implemented in Kombolcha, Babile and Fedis districts of Eastern Hararghe Zone during 2012 to 2017 cropping seasons with objectives to improve availability and sustainable supply of locally demanded seeds of improved crop varieties through Scaling-up Local Seed Business (LSB) in partners with BENEFIT-ISSD Programme of Haramaya University. In mind of these facts, FARC, BENEFIT-ISSD Programme and other partners have been collaborated to support SPCs farmers through LSB project in the target area. Accordingly, a total of seven SPCs involved in LSB project with a total of 699 SPCs farmers who was produced and distributed seeds of improved crop varieties to the farmers in the target area, and resulted a total of 5005 quintals of certified seeds produced and disseminated by the SPCs during 2012 to 2017 cropping seasons. In addition, a total of 2655.58 quintals of basic seeds of adapted crops varieties were multiplied and disseminated by FARC in the target area.To ensure and maintain cooperative based seed production and distribution, it is suggested to work more on capacity building for quality seed production, controlling the quality of seed is vital. In addition, strengthening the SPCs through institutional support in seed value addition link those with potential seed market and distribution system should be given priority for sustainability of the SPCs in the area.

Keywords: Linking research center, Seed producer cooperatives, Seed value chain, East Hararghe Zone.

1. INTRODUCTION
Sorghum and maize are among the most important cereal crops dominantly grown in the eastern part of Ethiopia.Particularly east Hararghe zone sorghumholds first rank used as stable food crop and maize is followed sorghum. These crops are served as a major source of food for farmers in the area. In addition, their leaf and stalk are used as animal feed and fuel wood especially in eastern part of the country. Similarly, Potato (SolanumtuberosumL.) is a major vegetable crop which is widely grown by smallholder farmers in the highland and mid-altitude areas of Ethiopia and similar agro-ecology in astern Oromia as well. Potato is one of the major staple crops with the potential to improve food security and economic benefits of producers because of its ability to provide high yield (Adaneet al, 2010).
In east Hararghe zone, apart from food crop, potato is one of the most important cash crops grown by farmers, under rain-fed and irrigated agriculture as source of livelihood for communities in the area. It is the most commonly marketed crop accounts about 60% share of the total vegetable crops producedin the area (Bezabih and Hadera, 2007). Despite the importance of sorghum, maize and potato in the east Hararghe Zone of Oromia Region, the productivity remained low in the area, mainly because of limited use of improved seeds, recurrent drought and weed infestation. Hence, the average yields of these crops are, 20.4, 25.7 and 123.9 quintals per hectare for sorghum, maize and potato respectively in the area ((Central Statistical Agency [CSA], 2016)).
Access to of farmers preferred quality seeds of crop varieties is among the most key input for improving crop productivity, and increasing the quality of seeds can increase the yield potential of the crop by significant folds (Atilaw, 2010, Beyene, 2010). Hence, improving availability of seeds of farmers preferred crop varieties will enhance the productivity and livelihood of the farmers. However, it needs a well-functioning and sustainable seed system to ensure the production and supply of quality seeds of farmer preferred varieties at the right quality, time and priceto the farmers, women, men and youths (FAO, 2015).
In Ethiopia, despite the release of several improved crop varieties, there has been limited use of improved seeds by the majority of farmers, yet for some important crops; the area covered with improved varieties is estimated to be less than 5% (Thijssenet al., 2008). As a result, majority of seed demand is fulfilled by the informal seed sector, which is estimated to be 80−90% (Bishawet al., 2008). Similarly, the problem of farmers’ access to quality seeds of improved crop varieties is more pronounced in East Hararghe Zone, and smallholder farmers largely rely on seeds of local varieties or traditional own farm yielded seed preparation which resulted in low agricultural production and productivity in the area (CSA, 2015; FAO, 2015). This is because of lack of sustainable seed supply system, and linkage among seed value chain actors in the area.
In line with this, Fedis agricultural research Center (FARC) has been collaborated with Haramaya University of Integrated Seed Sector Development (BENEFIT-ISSD) programme of East oromia to support seed producer cooperatives (SPCs) through Local Seed Business (LSB) project for improving access to quality seeds of improved varieties that can increase the productivity of the crops in the area. As a result of intervention, a total of seven SPCs were established and promoted by the programme in the area. In addition, the Center has been multiplied and disseminated pre-basic and basic seeds of adapted crop varieties to seed producer cooperatives and other stakeholders in the area.This paper, therefore, aimed at providing performance of SPCs, challenges and ways forward for sustainability.

2. Implementation Approach
2.1. Description of target area
The SPCs based seed production and marketing activity was implemented in Fedis, Babile and Kombolcha districts of Eastern Hararghe Zone of Oromiya Region during 2012 to 2018 cropping seasons with collaboration of HU-BENEFIT-ISSD programme on Scaling-up of Local Seed Business (LSB) through improving availability and sustainable supply of quality seeds. .Agro-climatically, Fedis district has midland and lowland which account for 39% and 61% of the total area, respectively, with in altitude ranges of 500 to 2100 m.a.s.l. Similarly, Agro-climatic condition of Babile district account 100% lowland with warm and dry; and the altitude of the district ranges from 950 to 2000 m.a.s.l, where as Kombolcha district, is characterized as sub-humid highland with mean annual rainfall of 790 mm. The district has an altitude of 2161 m.a.s.l. Agriculture is the major source of livelihood in all districts. Fadis and Babile districts are potential in sorghum and maize production, while Kombolcha is potential in potato, cabbage, beetroot, sorghum and maize. However, the production of these crops is constrained by limited availability of seeds of improved varieties in the area.

2.2. Local seed business (LSB) sites and seed producer cooperatives (SPC) farmers’ selection
The selection of LSB sites and SPCs farmers’ was conducted in collaboration with experts from offices of agriculture, and cooperative promotion offices. Prior to implementation of the activity, discussions were held with experts from zone and districts to identify and select LSB sites and SPCs. Then after, six LSB sites such as Bisidimo from Babile district, Risqii, Iftu and Iddo-Basso from Fedis district, and Billisuma and Egu sites from Kombolcha district were selected based on potential in crop production, accessibility, availability of irrigation water, and irrigable land. Similarly, seven SPCs were selected based on different criterion. Some the criterions were cooperatives having legal entity, having cluster land used for seed production, and interest to engage in seed production in the area. The description of the selected SPCs was presented in the following table.

Table 1. Description of LSB sites and SPCs selected from Babile, Fedis and Kombolcha districts
District LSB sites Name of SPCs Members Year of established
Male Female Total
Babile Bisidimo LelisaIfadin 0 78 78 1998
Fedis Risqii MaddaRisqii 170 98 268 1999
Iftu JaalalaGuddina 154 30 184 1999
Iddo-Basso LegaHamaresa 498 77 575 2000
Jannale Irrigation 67 13 80 2005
Kombolcha Billisuma MaddaJaneta 90 28 118 1999
Egu IfaEgu 115 31 146 1999
Total 1094 355 1449
Source: District cooperative promotion offices, 2018

2.3. Actors’ roles and responsibility
Once, LSB sites, SPCs farmers and stakeholders were identified and selected; consultation meeting and discussions held for the purpose of having common understanding about the SPCs based seed production and distribution among all actors, actors’ role and responsibility, the approach and setting action plan. Memorandum of understanding was signed between FARC and HU-BENEFIT-ISSD Programme which has stated the role and responsibility of each partner in the implementation of SPCs based seed production and distribution in the area. The activity was implemented by involving SPCs farmers, experts from zone and districts offices of agriculture, cooperative promotion offices, Union, Haramaya University, BENEFIT-ISSD, and researchers for coordinating, monitoring and technical support for SPCs in the area.

2.4. Capacity building
Training of SPCs farmers and other stakeholders
Training was given to SPCs farmers, development agents, experts and other stakeholders to build their technical capacity and helps in enhancing seed production and distribution techniques in the area. The training was given on quality seed production techniques, diseases and insect management, field clustering,post-harvest handling and marketing, and organizational management.

Awareness creation and knowledge sharing
Awareness activities were conducted through farmer field days, demonstrations, exchange visits, radio and television broadcasts, pamphlets and broachers were used were used to create awarenessandpromote SPC’s activities, transfer knowledge and skill on seed production and marketing to enhance learning and experience sharing among farmers, experts, developmentagents and other stakeholders. Moreover, experts, researchers, and HU-BENEFIT ISSD innovators have actively involved in follow up and inspection of each SPC’s seed production fields to assure the desire quality seed production in the area. Inputs mainly basic seeds of sorghum, maize and potato varieties were provided to the SPCs farmers prior to the planting time production of certified seeds.In addition, facilitating seed inspection and certification, facilities such as storages, office equipments such as shelf, table and chairs, farm machineries such as maize sheller, sorghum thresher and sealing machine, donkey cart and water pump were provided to SPCs.

Seed marketing and distribution
Seed collection, storing, packing, certification, and marketing were facilitated by FARC in collaboration with ISSD programme, Zone and district office of agriculture, and Cooperative promotion offices. The produced seeds were sold locally for the SPCs members, neighbour farmers, Unions, GOs and NGOs operating in the area.

2.5. Method of data collection and analysis
Data such as number of farmers participated in seed production, number farmers, experts participated on training and field visits, quantity of inputs used, area allocated, quantity of seed produced and sold, and farmers perception were collected using checklists through interview and discussions. The collected data were enter into Excel and analyzed using descriptive statistics and narrative.

3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Seed producer cooperatives (SPCs) farmers
A total of seven SPCs were involved in seed production and distribution of seeds of locally preferred sorghum, maizeand potato varieties during 2012 to 2018 year in the area. The SPCs’ name and members involved in seed production and distribution was presented in the table 3. The Table shows that a total of 699farmers (531 male and 168 female) were involved in seed production and distribution activities in the area. These SPCs are functional in producing and distributing certified seeds of locally preferred varieties of maize, sorghum and potato in the area.

Table 2. The SPCs farmers involved in seed production and marketing during 2012 to2018
Name of SPCs SPCs farmers participated in LSB
Male Female Total
LelissaIfadin 0 78 78
JaalalaaGuddina 82 10 92
MaddaRisqi 72 16 88
LagaHammaressa 68 15 83
Jenale Irrigation 55 11 66
MaddaJaneta 140 18 158
IfaEgu 114 20 134
Total 531 168 699
Sources: our results, 2018

3.2. Capacity building and knowledge sharing
Training was given to the SPCs farmers, agricultural experts, Development Agents (DAs), cooperative experts, researchers and other stakeholderson quality seed production during the project life. The participants have also been trained on cooperative management, financial management, record keeping and business plan preparation. Accordingly, a total of 373 SPCs farmers (290 male and 83 female), 26 Development Agents (DAs), and 53 experts and researchers from Zonal and districts offices of agriculture, cooperative promotion offices, research centre, Universities and NGOs have been trained on quality seed production techniques since 2013 cropping season.
In addition, field visits and experience sharingeventswere organized in Fadis, Babile and Kombolcha districts with objectives of promotion and awareness creation among seed value chain actors’ on SPCs based seed business activities implemented in the target area.The farmersand seed value chain actors from East Hararghe Zone were participated on the events.Accordingly, a total of508 (362 male farmers, 146female farmers), 30Development Agents (DAs), 24agricultural experts and 20 researchers and other seed value chain actors were participated and they visited efforts made bySPCs farmers on seed business activities implemented in the target areas.Moreover, exchange visits and tours were organized to 25 SPC farmers, 8 experts and 4 researchers forsharing experience on quality seed production and storage techniques.Furthermore, radio and television broadcasting were used to promote the SPCs farmers seed business activities widely in the areas. Printed Medias such as booklets, pamphlets and broachers describing SPCs farmers’ seed business activities have been printed and distributed, and more than 2500 printed materials distributed in the target areas. As a result, the farmers, Development Agents (DAs), agricultural experts and other seed value chain actors have increased their awareness and knowledge on quality seed production in target areas.

3.3. Role of SPCs farmers and other stakeholders
The SPCs farmers play a significant role starting from input allocation (land, labour, and fertilizers), planting, managing the fields, harvesting to marketing of the produced certified seeds. Providing capacity building through training, and experience sharing for SPCs and stakeholders, facilitating field supervision and coaching, access o basic seeds, and support in post harvest technologies such as threshing,shelling, seed packing materialsand sewing machines were performed by FARC and HU-ISSD. The SPCs farmer, DAs, and experts from office of agriculture and researchers have been involved in field clustering, follow up and field inspection to assure the desire quality of seed production in the area. Facilitating seed quality control and certification, packing and looking for buyer for produced seeds were also performed by partners. The researchers and experts also provided extension and advisory services for SPCs farmers during coordination and field monitoring, and by communications in phone.As a result, the SPCs farmers, DAs and experts have increased their awareness and knowledge on quality seed production techniques, and marketing in the targeted areas.

3.4. Certified seed production and dissemination
The SPCs farmers, improved crop varieties namely sorghum, maize and potato were multiplied on a total of 156 hectares of land through participating 699 SPC farmers (531 male and 168 female) in three districts of East HarargheZone. Basic seeds of improved maize (Melkasa-2, Melkasa-4 varieties) andsorghum (Gubiye, Teshale, and Abshir varieties)were provided by Fedis Research Center to the SPCs farmers in the target areas. In addition, seeds of improved potato varieties (Badasa, Gudane, and Bubu) and one locally demanded variety (Dedefa variety) have been introduced to the farmers in the target area.A total of 660.87 quintals of basic seeds of sorghum (10 quintals), maize (23 quintals) and potato (650 quintals) were supplied to the SPCs by FARC jointly with ISSD Programme and Haramaya University starting from 2012/13 to 2017/18 cropping seasons (Table 3). The SPCs have resulted in production of about 586, 599 and 3550 quintals of certified seeds of maize, sorghumand potato, respectively. In addition, the SPCs were produced about 124 and 146 quintals of certified seeds of wheat and groundnut, respectively (Table 3).

Table 3.Quantity of basic seed supplied, area covered and seed produced by SPCs
Crop types Quantity of basic
seed supplied (quintal) Cultivated
area (ha) Quantity of seed
produced (quintal)
Maize 13 48 586
Sorghum 6.87 55 599
Potato 620 31.5 3550
Wheat 13 10.5 124
Groundnut 8 11 146
Total 660.87 156 5005
Source: Our results, 2018

Figure 1 show that the amount of maize, sorghum, potato, wheat and groundnut seeds produced and delivered by the SPCs farmers over the period of 2012 to 2017 in the target area. For maize, sorghum and potato, a total of 4735 quintals of certified seeds produced and distributed by SPCs farmers over the over the period of 2012 to 2017 with 586 for maize, 599 for sorghum and 3550 for potato in the target area (Figure 1).In addition, a total of 270 quintals of certified seeds of wheat and groundnut were produced and distributed by SPCs in the area during the same cropping seasons (Figure 1).

Figure 1.Amount of certified seed produced and distributed (in quintal) 2012/13 to 2017/18
Source: Our computation, 2018

3.5. Seed marketing and promotion
Each maize seed producing SPCs was allocated, on average, 9.25 ha of land and produced and marketed about 213.6of quality maize seed. Similarly, each sorghum seed producing SPCs was allocated, on average, 11.6 ha of land for sorghum, and produced and marketed about 109.5 quintal of sorghum seed for income diversification (Table 4). Each potato seed producing SPCs, on average 31.5 ha of land allocated for potato seed production and on average 17750 quintals of potato seed produced and distributed in the target area during 2012/13 to 2017/18 cropping seasons (Table 4). The SPCs was sold the produced seeds to the farmers in the area,and they generated on average birr 256,320, 189,800 and 473,333 birr per year from maize, sorghum and potato seed business activities and they said that, seed business is profitable compared to grain production in the area. Thus, seed business has a positive impact on income of the farmers and thereby promoting improved technologies in the area.

Table 4. Ccertified seed produced and revenue generated by SPCs during 2012/13 to 2017/18
Descriptions Maize Sorghum Potato
Number of active SPCs 3 3 2
Total area allocated(ha) 48 55 31.5
Average area (ha/SPC/) 9.25 11.6 15.75
Total production (quintal) 589 599 3550
Average production (quintal/SPCs) 213.6 146 1775
Average production (quintal/year) 160.25 109.5 591.67
Average price (Birr/quintal) 1200 1300 800
Average gross revenue (Birr/year) 256,320 189,800 473,333
Source: our computation results, 2018

3.6. Benefits from SPCs based seed production and marketing
The benefit of the SPCs based seed production and marketing ranges from dissemination of improved crops varieties in the target area. More specifically, the SPCs have advantages, such as access to quality basic seeds and earning cash by selling the seeds to farmers in the areas. The SPCs also play significant roles in dissemination of seeds of improved varieties to the nearby farmer in the area. Because, the SPCs the produced seeds of maize, sorghum, potato, wheat and groundnut varieties were supplied locally to the farmers in the area. In addition, a total of 699 SPCs farmers were directly involved and benefited from the seed business in the target area.This has helped mainly the s farmers to easily access seeds of farmers’ preferred crop varieties. As a result, tolerance to moisture stresses, early maturing and high yielding varieties of maize, sorghum, potato, wheat and groundnut were promoted through SPCs in the area. In addition, the SPC farmers expressed their satisfaction with seed production and marketing is profitable with average revenue of birr 256,320, 189,800 and 473,333 per year for maize, sorghum and potato, respectively. So, they are willing to continue to producing and marketing of improved seeds in the area.

3.7. Pre-basic and basic seed production and dissemination
Fadis Agricultural Research Center (FARC) has been made an effort to addresses seed shortage problems through quality seed multiplication and dissemination of different improved crops varieties.This has helped mainly smallholder farmersto easily access seeds of improved crop varieties target area. Accordingly, theCenter has been multiplied and disseminated a total of 2658 quintals of basic seeds sorghum, maize, haricot bean, sesame, wheat and barley varieties were multiplied and disseminated to the farmers of Eastern Hararghe Zone, Harari region, Dire-Dawa city administration and Somali region over the period of 2012 to 2018 (Table 5).The seeds multiplied by the center has been distributed to the farmers through Zonal office of agriculture to reach the farmers in the target areas.

Table 5.Qantity of basic seeds multiplied and disseminated by FARC during 2012 to 2018
Crop type Seed class Production year
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total
Sorghum Basic 77 386.5 390 416 397 192 370 2228
Maize Basic 9 23 50 161 21 10 40 314
Haricot bean Basic 6 0 12 37 2.5 5 15 77
Sesame Basic 0 0 2 0 5 1 2 10
Wheat Basic 8 0 2.5 0 1 0.5 1 13
Barley Basic 8 0 0 0 4.3 0.5 1 13.8
Total 108 410 458 614 430 209 429 2655.58
Source: Seed multiplication and distribution data from FARC, 2018

4. Conclusion and recommendation
Seed producer Cooperatives (SPCs) farmers based seed production and marketing was implemented in Fedis, Babile and Kombolcha districts of Eastern Hararghe Zone of the Oromiya region during 2012 to 2018 cropping seasons with objectives ofimproving availability and sustainable supply of quality seeds of improved varieties of maize, sorghum, potato, wheat and groundnut crops at farmers level through Scaling-up Local Seed Business (LSB) project in the target area. The LSB basically involves in supporting SPCs for producing and distribution of quality seeds locally demanded crop varieties. Accordingly, a total of seven SPCs farmers involved in local seed business with 699 members who produce and distribute seeds of farmers preferred crop varieties in the area, and they have been produced and distributed a total of 5005 quintals of maize,sorghum, potato, wheat and groundnut seeds during 2012 to 2018 cropping seasons in the target area. Therefore, to ensure SPCs based seed production and distribution, it is suggested to enhance the SPCs farmers’ on seed post harvest handling and value addition, access to finance, and link them with seed distribution system existed in the area for sustainable supply of seeds of farmers’ preferred varieties in the area. In addition, market promotion and linkage, controlling the quality of seed should be given emphasis. To make SPCs based seed business is sustainable, linkage and coordination among key partners and proper institutional support are paramount importance in the area.

5. References
Adane H., Miranda M., Willemien L., Alfons O.L., Paul S., &Admasu T. (2010). Economic and agronomic analysis of seed potato supply chains in Ethiopia. CoQA International workshop, May 26 – 28, 2009 Hof van Wageningen (WICC), Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Atilaw, A. (2010). A baseline survey on the Ethiopian seed sector. The African seed trade association.October, 2010. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Bezabih E. and G. Hadera. (2007). Constraints and opportunities of horticulture production and marketing in Eastern Ethiopia Dry Lands Coordination Group Report No 46. Grensen 9b. Norway.
Beyene, F. (2010). The role of NGO in informal seedproduction and dissemination: The case of eastern Ethiopia. Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in theTropics and Subtropics111(2): 79-88.
Bishaw Z, Yonas Sand Belay S. (2008). The status of the Ethiopian seed industry. InFarmers, Seeds and Varieties (Marja HT, Zewdie B, Abdurahman B and Walter S, eds.). The Netherlands: Wageningen International.
Bishaw, Z., Sahlu Y. and Belay S. (2008). the status of the Ethiopian seed industry. In: Thijssen, M.H., Z.
CSA, Central Statistical Agency. (2015). Annual Agricultural Sample Survey Report. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
CSA. Central Statistical Authority of Ethiopia.(2016). Annual Agricultural Sample Survey Report. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
FAO. (2015). “What is Seed System?” Accessed February 13, 2015. http://www.fap.org/agriculture/crops/thematic-sitemap/theme/compendium/toolsguidelines/what–are-seeds-systems/en
Gregg, B.R.., & van Gastel, A.J.G., 1997. Managing seed marketing. Ibadan, IITA / GTZ / CRI–WASDU Publication. pp.128
Setimela, P. S., Monyo, E., and Bänziger, M. (2004). Successful Community-Based Seed Production Strategies.Mexico, D.F.: CIMMYT.
Setimela, P. S., and Kosina, P. (2006). Strategies for Strengthening and Scaling Up Community-Based Seed Production.Mexico, D.F.: CIMMYT
Tesfaye G. (2016).Innovative Partnership Approach to Chickpea seed production and Technology Dissemination: Lessons from Ethiopia Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference28 February to 4 March, 2016 Livingstone, Zambia
Thijssen, M.H., Bishaw, Z., Beshir A. and deBoef, W.S. (2008). Farmers, seeds and varieties: supporting informal seed supply in Ethiopia. Wageningen International. 348 p.