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Zambia Seed Company Ltd (Zamseed) was founded in 1981 as a joint venture between the Government of Zambia and several private entities, including the Zambia Seed Producers’ Association and the Zambia Cooperative Federation. The company produces certified seed for both local and export markets, including a range of field crops and vegetables. It also has recently diversified into vegetative propagation materials, such as sweet potato vines and cassava cuttings, because of popular demand. In countries outside of Zambia, the company’s main focus is on maize.
Zamseed ranks 19th in the Eastern and Southern Africa Index, a fall of nine places from the 2016 Index. The company scores moderately across all measurement areas, which is largely attributable to a lack of disclosure on its policies, commitments and activities related to smallholder farmers. Zamseed has significant but limited activities related to certain measurement areas, including CEO/ board-level responsibility for smallholder commitments in Governance & Strategy, and linkages with agritech company Limalinks for improved access to output markets in Capacity Building. Furthermore, in breeding it addresses an array of relevant traits for smallholders in Research & Development. It has also made efforts to tackle counterfeit seed and strengthen customer feedback mechanisms in Marketing & Sales. Otherwise, the company’s lowest score comes in Genetic Resources, where it does not offer any activities related to region-specific conservation or benefit-sharing.
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Zamseed collaborates with Lima Links, a market information system in Zambia, using a mobile point-of-sale app to facilitate greater seed access for smallholder users nationwide. This allows the company to access a wider audience and share information through a digital farmer database.
Zamseed is currently developing an access to seeds policy. The company is encouraged to ensure this policy is corporate-led, includes clear targets and a tracking mechanism, and is made publicly available to increase accountability. It should also consider aligning this and other corporate policies with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The company does not have codes of business conduct in place that set internal standards on anti-corruption, lobbying activities, and social and labor standards. It is encouraged to develop and publicize such codes of conduct to drive internal behavior and enhance accountability to its stakeholders.
The company is encouraged to disclose further information relevant to all measurement areas, particularly the specific aims and collaborations in its breeding programs and how monitoring and compliance with labor standards is ensured in its seed production activities.
Zamseed has extensive seed activities in its home market, Zambia, with research, seed production and processing facilities alongside a marketing department.
Zamseed selects agents to work with the company and rural communities to facilitate mobile sales. These agents earn 10%- 15% commission on sales, which encourages entrepreneurship and helps to advance the local seed sector.
The company reports that it is working on tackling fall armyworm in its maize breeding program.
The company has systems in place in Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo, for receiving feedback from smallholder farmers to inform its breeding program.
Zamseed is one of only three index companies with chickpea in its portfolio, and it is the only one that markets varieties from its own breeding program.
The company produces all basic seed on its research farms under the supervision of company researchers. It states that it strictly adheres to the Zambian Seed Act for quality standards.
The company carries out agronomic training in Zambia in partnership with the local non-governmental organization Musika. The partnership has allowed the company to specifically target female farmer groups for inclusion in the training programs.
The company had a memorandum of understanding with the US-based non-governmental organization Agricultural Cooperative Development International/ Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance from 2015 to 2017 to help smallholder farmers gain access to output markets. Agro-dealers have continued to procure and stock legumes from smallholders in Zambia’s Eastern Province since the project’s completion.