- July 29, 2022
- Posted by: Mariam Kasemiire
- Category: Uncategorized
68% of Uganda’s farming households are engaged in subsistence rain-fed agriculture that relies largely on home-saved seed of low quality resulting into low production. Farmers’ reliance on home-saved seed is caused by insufficient availability of affordable high quality seed and lack of trust in the certified seed available in the market. Certified seed contributes only about 15% of seed requirement (mainly maize, some legumes). The remaining 85% is from the informal sector. Due to the inability of seed companies to supply required quantities of certified seed and the limited capacity in the regulatory system, an estimated 30-40% of seed traded in the market is counterfeit.
In a bid to increase access to quality seed in the Horticulture Industry in Uganda, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University through the Innovation Scholars Program (ISP) is engaging different stakeholders in the country to address the challenges in seed quality. Through a project titled, “Engaging Stakeholders and Policy to Address Challenges in Seed Quality in the Horticulture Industry of Uganda: A Case of Tomato and Pepper”, researchers led by Dr Jeninah Karungi-Tumutegyereize, an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Production at CAES, Makerere University seek to enhance the quantity and quality of horticultural crops produce, and to strategically position CAES in agricultural development in the country. Other members on the project are; Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa, and Dr. Mildred Ochwo Ssemakula from the Department of Agricultural Production, Malerere University; Dr Gabriel Ddamulira (Head, Horticulture Programme, National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI); Mr Moses Erongu from the Department of Crop Inspection and Certification at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; and Mr Daniel Kituzi, a farmer and entrepreneur. The project is supported by USAID and Michigan State University’s Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development (BHEARD).
On 13th July 2022, the project team held a stakeholders’ workshop to deliberate on the challenges in the seed value chain in the horticulture industry in Uganda and to explore avenues for supporting the operationalization of the National Seed Policy. The meeting held at Eureka Place Hotel in Ntinda, Kampala was attended by staff from the Department of Agricultural Production, CAES; representatives from MAAIF, NARO, and seed companies; as well as farmers and exporters.
Challenges affecting the seed value chain in the horticulture industry in Uganda
During the stakeholder engagement, Dr Karungi shared an overview of their project pointing out key factors undermining access to quality seed in Uganda’s Horticulture Industry including; limited funding; lack of qualified manpower especially breeders, seed technologists and agronomists to develop, maintain private varieties and parental germplasm; and a weak policy framework to support quality control. “Uganda has made strides in developing an institutional policy and regulatory framework for the seed subsector. However, implementation and enforcement remain a challenge due to inadequate human and financial resources leading to limited enforcement of seed quality standards. Institutional and policy weaknesses limit the development of a competitive, vibrant and pluralistic seed sector in Uganda,” she noted.
Commenting on the Parish Development Model which emphasizes increase in agricultural production, Dr Fredrick Bagamba from the Innovation Scholars Program (ISP) at CAES underscored the significance of improving access to quality seed, noting that ISP was supporting the process by ensuring end users are involved right from problem identification.
Addressing participants, the Head of the Horticulture Programme at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI)), Dr Gabriel Ddamulira noted that as part of the interventions to address the challenge of lack of access to quality seed, the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in 2021 released certified vegetable varieties from Uganda. “In crop production, the most fundamental factor is seed. However, access to quality seed is still low. Increasing access to quality seed requires enabling policies, research, private sector engagement & regulation,” he explained.
Discussing the legal aspects of seed entrepreneurship and distribution, Mr Moses Erongu from the Department of Crop Inspection and Certification at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), cautioned farmers against buying seed of unknown quality. He urged seed dealers to report issues of counterfeit seed to agricultural extension officers, police or MAAIF, and to always consult with extension service providers before buying seed. To address the challenge of seed quality, Mr Erongu said MAAIF was renovating and expanding the seed testing laboratory at Kawanda to provide better services. He further noted that MAAIF was developing a digital tracking system to monitor the quality of seed.
Brainstorming on strategies to support the operationalisation the National Seed Policy
The overall goal of the National Seed Policy is to guide, promote, develop and regulate the seed sub-sector in order to ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of safe and high quality seed to all stakeholders for increased food and nutrition security, household income, wealth creation and higher export earnings. The policy sets out to; i) strengthen research and development for the seed sector; ii) strengthen capacity of the key players along the seed value chain to achieve an effective and efficient seed sector; iii) strengthen the seed quality control system along the entire value chain; and to enhance knowledge and information management for the seed sector. Policy priority areas include; i) generating new commercial and food and nutrition security varieties; ii) sustainable utilisation and protection of Uganda’s national plant genetic resources; iii) multiplication of high quality seed under the formal seed system; iv) enhancement of the production of quality seed within the informal system; v) strengthening seed distribution and marketing to enhance commercialization of quality seed; vi) enhancement of national competitiveness in regional and international seed trade to contribute to economic growth; vii) quality control along the formal seed value chain; viii) quality control for Quality Declared Seed; ix) development of human resource for the seed sub-sector development; and x) and establishment of a Seed Sector Integrated Information Management System.
Suggestions by participants
Braining on measures to support the operationalization of the National Seed Policy, participants called for the development of a national horticulture policy and improved investment into the horticulture seed industry – availing resources to support the breeding of seed varieties. They also called for skilling of farmers in good agronomy practices, strengthened regulation of the seed industry, more research on the sector, identification and development of seed varieties for commercially viable crops, financial subsides to the seed companies, insurance to manage the challenge of seed forecast, protection of local seed industries from competition; strong penalty for companies dealing in counterfeit seed, enhancement of capacity of extension workers and inspectors, and empowerment of institutions of higher learning to train manpower to support the seed system in the country.
The workshop was moderated by Ms. Harriet Adong, Director Communication, Learning and Knowledge Management at RAN, also Communication Officer at Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF).
About the CAES Innovation Scholars Program
Makerere University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Michigan State University’s Borlaug Higher Education for Agriculture Research and Development (BHEARD) Program with the support of the MSU’s Global Centre for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) are working together to advance CAES toward its strategic vision “to be a leading institution of academic excellence and innovations in Africa.” The CAES Innovation Scholars Program (CAESISP), offers an eighteen-month opportunity during which CAES academic personnel can work as interdisciplinary teams to solve food system problems that are relevant to the food systems in Africa, while at the same time offering support to the entire CAES academic team in the areas of design thinking, teaching and learning, community outreach, and communicating science. The CAESISP serves as a catalyst to support food system innovations that improve food security, and develop the current and next generation of entrepreneurial scientists at Makerere University and in the region. The program is modelled after a successful, field-tested faculty development program implemented at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) —yet tailored for innovation and contextual challenges at Makerere University. The core values of the CAESISP include: participatory, asset-based, learner-centered, contextualized, and evaluative.
Access the National Seed Policy here: https://www.agriculture.go.ug/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Ministry-of-Agriculture-Animal-Industry-and-Fisheries-National-Seed-Policy.pdf