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Farm Inputs Care Centre Ltd (FICA Seeds) was incorporated in Uganda in 1999 and established a seed business in 2001. The company’s portfolio includes a diverse set of field crop and vegetable seeds, both open-pollinated varieties and hybrids. Hybrid maize, dry beans and cowpeas are the company’s main crops in the region, and smallholder farmers are its main clientele.DownloadCompany
FICA Seeds ranks tenth in the Eastern and Southern Africa Index, improving its score from the 2016 index, albeit with a mixed performance across measurement areas. The company ranks first in Seed Production, where in addition to engaging and contracting smallholder farmers, it produces and distributes foundation seed to local seed companies to meet demand. A respectable score in Research & Development is reflective of significant collaborations in research and the investment of company resources in training plant breeders. Similarly, in Governance & Strategy, the company demonstrates a varied use of resources and commitments relating to the specific needs of smallholders. In Capacity Building, the company’s programs are limited in scope and do not pay significant attention to the development of women smallholder farmers; and in Genetic Resources, positions and activities related to the conservation and use of genetic resources are not significantly disclosed.
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FICA Seeds contributes to local seed sector development in its home country through the project Increased Production of Foundation Seed for Maize and Upland Rice for the Seed Industry in Uganda. To meet the challenge of inadequate access to early generation seed, the company, through the project, has developed a business model for producing and supplying foundation seed to other seed companies in the country.
To help fight against counterfeit seed, FICA Seeds uses an e-verification system on its seed packages, known as Kakasa. This system relies on a unique scratch code that the customer can access after purchasing the product. After the code is submitted via SMS, the customer receives a message confirming that the package as genuine. The company also reports using tamper-proof labels issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as third-party assurance of the quality of seed on the market.
The company reports having codes of business conduct in place that govern issues around social and labor standards. The company is encouraged to disclose these codes and ensure they are applied along its seed supply chain, including third-party seed production.
The company lacks commitments and activities related to the conservation and use of crop genetic diversity as well as various aspects of intellectual property rights such as farm-saved seed, which could be improved by developing a comprehensive policy governing these issues.
FICA Seeds assigns responsibility at the CEO/board level for the implementation of policies and targets related to access to seeds for smallholder farmers. The company also plays a role in national seed sector policy formulation through its membership of the Ugandan Seed Trade Association and is committed to formulating an industry-led quality management and certification program.
The company has research collaborations for different crops with the National Agricultural Research Organization, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Further, the company markets maize varieties from its own breeding program that are tolerant to drought and biotic stresses.
Through field days and open days, the company gathers local knowledge and feedback, including specific feedback from women smallholder farmers, to inform its maize breeding program.
FICA Seeds engages with local players such as individual farmers and farmer groups in seed production. Smallholder farmers are offered contracts, which include arrangements on product pricing. Further, to ensure the quality of seed produced, the company has its own laboratory facilities and quality control staff who work in conjunction with company field officers. All operations are inspected by an officer from the National Seed Certification Service.
The company provides extension services to smallholder farmers in the form of technology demonstrations in farmers’ fields and the provision of agronomic advice. In partnership with grain traders, the company also states that it creates market linkages for smallholder farmers to sell their produce.
Alongside regional peer Equator Seeds, FICA Seeds is working in collaboration with USAID on the Feed the Future Youth Leadership for Agriculture program. The company’s reported role is to create employment opportunities for 3,000 potential young farmers, reached through youth groups, by providing them with technical agronomic training and business management skills.