A new study by an Amsterdam-based Access to Seeds Foundation has revealed that Nigeria’s seed firm, Value Seeds tops the ranking in research on seed companies operating in Western and Central Africa.
The Access to Seeds Index for Western and Central Africa focuses on 23 leading seed companies in the region.
Ido Verhagen, Executive Director, Access to Seeds Index stated this while addressing newsmen in Lagos on the outcome of the research.
According to him, there had been a growing number of seed companies that are active in the region, both homegrown and international, adding that less than half of the 23 companies researched conduct plant breeding in Western and Central Africa.
He revealed further that findings showed that international and African seed companies fall short in delivering quality seed and new varieties to smallholder farmers and that this limits the potential to address food security, nutrition and climate resilience.
In addition, he attributed this to the limitations in the release of new varieties adapted to the region and explains the high number of varieties that are older than five years offered in company portfolios.
He said that Value Seeds like most of the other companies from the region operates exclusively in its home country, Nigeria and it stands out for its maize and rice ‘value kits’, all-in-one input packages tailored for smallholders.
“Also, it provides capacity building activities that specifically, target women and next-generation farmers. Other Nigerian companies also dominate the top half, such as Maslaha Seeds, Premier Seed, and Da-Allgreen Seeds showing the relative strength of the seed industry from Nigeria.
Verhagen also stated that Technisem from France, which has the widest presence in the region, covering 17 countries and offering training in 13 of them was ranked second.
“The company sets an example by establishing Novalliance, which taps into the local potential of homegrown African seed companies. Among the top-ten index companies that belong to this group are Tropicasem from Senegal, Semagri from Cameroon, and Nankosem from Burkina Faso. Their combined breeding efforts resulted in the most up-to-date portfolio in the region, with a high number of newly released varieties.
“What both Value Seeds and Technisem represent is the importance of partnerships to improve access to seeds in the region. In the case of Value Seeds, its partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) paid off, as its grant-based support enabled the company to improve its products and intensify its outreach to smallholder farmers,” he said.
Speaking further he said that for the most part, open-pollinated varieties still dominate across the region, in contrast with Eastern Africa and South Asia.
“The exception is maize, for which hybrid varieties are more commonly available. In addition, research shows that for almost half (48 per cent) of the crops, the most recent variety is older than five years, with only a fifth (21 per cent) having a variety less than three years.