In nearly half of the countries, partnerships between cooperatives and research institutes involve variety selection and testing.
Although seed-producing cooperatives do not have their own breeding programs, they do know the preferences of their members and clients and are familiar with the local growing conditions. Therefore, more advanced cooperatives partner with national and international research institutes to select and test varieties that are suitable for local conditions.
Union Madda Ben de Falwel in Niger is probably one of the few cooperatives that can claim it has an ICRISAT seed variety named after it. This reflects the far-reaching cooperation with ICRISAT’s millet breeding program. Members of Madda Ben work with ICRISAT on participatory variety selection and variety testing. So far, four new millet varieties have been introduced as a result of this cooperation.
The model can be found in other countries as well. Coopérative Agricole de Niassan and Coopérative Agricole de Bama in Burkina Faso collaborate with the national research institute for variety testing and selection. CORIDEK in Democratic Republic of Congo is involved in participatory variety selection projects with the national research agency and IITA. Cooperatives in Mali are involved in variety testing with the national research agency and ICRISAT. In Côte d’Ivoire, Société Coopérative Womiengon de Korhogo reports having introduced three newly released rice varieties. In Liberia, two cooperatives have introduced new rice varieties developed by AfricaRice.