SAA participated in AFSTA Congress 2023: Seed technology and marketing to mitigate climate change

Prof. Karim Maredia,  the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University visiting SAA booth
Prof. Karim Maredia, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University visiting SAA booth

Access to quality seed is a critical step towards ensuring food security and improving the income and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Africa. African Seed Trade Association - AFSTA is an organization that works to promote seed trade and entrepreneurship in Africa. The AFSTA 2023 Congress was held in Senegal -Dakar at King Fahd Palace Hotel from 06 – 08 March 2023, attracting over 280 participants in Africa and beyond.

This year, Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) was admitted as the 211th member of the AFSTA and participated in the 2023 congress by presenting an Exhibition booth, which was visited by more than 250 participants. At the congress, SAA was represented by Mr. Ande Okiror, Program Coordinator Market Oriented Agriculture, Binyam Tesfaye Communication Officer in Ethiopia and Doua Demba Diallo in charge of the Integrated Seed Sector Development - ISSD Sahel project in Mali.

Doua Demba Diallo (Mali) , Ande Okiror (Uganda), Binyam Tesfaye (Ethiopia) representing SAA offices.

SAA shared its strategy, success stories, and intervention models that have impacted farmers and other actors in the food system in Africa. SAA strategy attracted a number of partners within and outside Africa that showed interest in working with SAA to deliver improved technologies to smallholder farmers.

In addition to the presentation of SAA strategic plan 2021-2025 and other materials, experience from the Integrated Seed Sector Development Project in SAHEL (ISSD-SAHEL), executed by a consortium including SAA-Mali and funded by the by the Embassy of Netherlands, was shared at the congress. Several partners expressed interest in designing and implementing similar projects in their respective countries. The strong potential for partnership exists in Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire

The discussions during AFSTA hinged on seed-related topics such as; the enactment of harmonized seed protocols and policies in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), improve seed access amidst climate change threats, how to interest the private sector to invest in the seed value chain, models and practices on how to recycle items and equipment used in the seed value chain. The role of the African Union-AU in the seed sector will entail among others; advocate for policies that support smallholder farmers' access to seeds, including seed policies that promote the use of traditional seed varieties, encourage the development of local seed systems, and protect farmers' rights to save and exchange seeds.

Director of International Program at the Collage of Agriculture, Michigan University, Prof Karim Maredia who visited the SAA booth kindly commented that seed must be treated with care as they are delicate and signify the start of life; he also mentioned that he was privileged to have worked closely with Dr. Norman Borlaug, one of SAA founders and father of the green revolution.

The AFSTA Congress 2024 will take place in Nairobi-Kenya, from 6-8 March 2024 as per the organizers.

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