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CIP and IRRI collaborate on CGIAR Seed Equal Initiative workshop for potato crops in Africa

The CGIAR Initiative Seed Equal- Delivering Genetic Gains to Farmers Fields held a workshop in Kenya, Africa to share how the initiative can contribute to developing more effective seed systems for potato crops in the region.

This new global initiative aims to support the seed delivery to farmers of high-quality, climate-resilient, market-preferred, and nutritious varieties of priority crops, while ensuring equitable access for women and other disadvantaged groups. The initiative promotes improvement in seed systems and value chains as an effective method to distribute genetic gains for yield, reduce adverse environmental stresses and pests and diseases, and support national seed systems.

The workshop, organized by scientists from the International Potato Center (CIP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) under the Seed Equal Work Package 4 component, aims to introduce the Seed Equal Initiative to African countries’ stakeholders and establish the Training of Trainers (ToT) model for capacity enhancement in 3 parts - capacity sharing, capacity support, and capacity sustenance. Capacity Sharing is the dissemination of knowledge and information; Capacity Support is training, relevant financial grants, and necessary tools and equipment; and Capacity Sustenance is education and training of farmer leaders, seed agronomists, and other supply chain stakeholders for long-term knowledge and support transfer, leading to sustainability and passing on capacity to farmers and other stakeholders in a continuum.

To achieve the appropriate design of the workshop based on the locations involved, and to ensure the workshop was tailored to the needs of farmers, farm leaders, and seed extension officers, consultations were done with local stakeholders as well as with CIP potato breeders and pathologists.

The workshop was held in September 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya, attended by representatives from 21 organizations across 13 rice-producing countries in Africa. Presenters during the workshop included Dr. Shoba Venkatanagappa, Dr. Thiago Mendes, Dr. Monica Parker, Dr. Swati Nayak Dr. Nathalie Vignaux, Dr. Ian Barker, Dr. Margaret McEwan, Dr. Simon Maina, Dr.Moses Nyongesa, Mr. Patrick Pwaipwai, Dr.George Ngundo, and Dr. Shadrack Nyawade.

During the 2-day workshop, a variety of topics were presented and discussed, including: introduction to Seed Equal, CIP breeding and variety development, multi-location and on-farm testing and selection, varietal release systems, COMESA, product profiling and management, EGS seed production, seed quality assurance, ICT tools, and socially equitable seed system models for women, youth, and smallholders. Participants were given ample opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback and perspectives, particularly on implementing effective seed systems in the African context.

This 2023, the Seed Equal team plans to scale up its engagement across Africa with more workshops and activities for the effective implementation of the initiative in the region.