AfDB Calls for Strengthening of Seed Councils, Stricter Quality Seed Control

Gilbert Ekugbe

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on African governments to strengthen their seed councils to enable them to achieve greater outputs in the continent’s bid to attain food security.

The AfDB also stated the need for these councils to enforce stricter seed quality control measures to test for purity and germination.

The Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry, AfDB, Dr. Martin Fregene, said at the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) investors’ forum that certified seeds required regulation.

Fregene maintained that African governments should create a level playing field in order to attract the private sector into the sector.

He said: “Why will a seed company want to sell certified seeds when I know all my competitors are selling grains and nobody is checking them. So we need not just laws, we need also the physical infrastructure, the human resource to enforce those laws. Do you know that out of six fertilizer samples, only one actually have the nutrient they claim to have the NPK somebody has to enforce quality controls.”  

He also highlighted the need for African governments to address trade barriers that have hindered the facilitation of intra-African trade, and pointed out that these barriers have made the agricultural sector unattractive to the private sector.

He added: “The private sector needs financing to be able to invest in this sector as well as bringing their equity. They also need financing working capital and for a very long time, Africa has always been seen as a high-risk environment. Some countries have gone ahead to create risk sharing facilities.”

Fregene advised governments to prioritise agricultural development by enforcing laws that would encourage commercial banks to lend a certain percentage of their deposits to the sector.

According to him, “there is a need for policy to force commercial banks to lend to the sector or pay fines if they do otherwise. This is the way it has been done in developed economies.”

Earlier, the Head, TAAT Clearinghouse, Dr. Innocent Musabyimana, said that TAAT is planning to use the investors forum to specifically bring together the technology developers and the private sector.  

Musabyimana said: “We are trying to bring all these technologies that are proven and ready to be used and into the hands of millions of farmers on the continent and the good news is that this is already happening. We have started to reap some impacts and positive impacts by bringing technology developers and TAAT is putring in place a mechanism for deploying this technology into the hearts of millions of farmers.”  

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