Seed sector alert Ethiopia

Ethiopia seed sector assessment

Seed Alerts identify current challenges and urgent action in the Ethiopian seed sector, based on surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders.

Seed sector assessments identify current challenges and urgent action in the Ethiopian seed sector, based on surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders. Below, please find the most recent seed alert for Ethiopia with key actions defined. You can also download the complete assessment.

Methodology

Rapid assessments are conducted at the country level in May and June 2020 through survey and focus group discussions (FGDs). In its approach the rapid assessments are inspired by the sector model developed by AidEnvironment. Read more about the methodology on our page 'Rapid assessments: methodology'.

Seed sector assessment - May 2020

Alert 1: Precautions hamper seed processing and distribution

The impact

  • COVID-19 and precautionary measures taken by government and society limit mobility of seed transporters and traders
  • Because they fear surface transmission of the virus, workers are reluctant to operate equipment and perform loading and unloading tasks at seed processing facilities
  • Transporters and retailers are reluctant to meet each other at points of exchange in the seed distribution network
  • Retailers fear meeting transporters as they come from busier urban centres where the virus is suspected
  • 90% of respondents in the survey believe that transport to and stock at points of seed sale will be negatively impacted by the crisis
  • To avoid last minute rush to and congestion at retail outlets, government has given direction to companies to distribute their seed swiftly
  • Indications are that good progress has been made, particularly in the case of maize, but processing and distribution of other cereals like wheat is still underway
  • If momentum is not maintained and seed distribution is impeded, farmers will have little other choice but to turn to their own and their neighbours’ grain harvests as a source of seed or delay planting in the expectation that seed will still be distributed, either of which could be detrimental both in terms of the quantity and quality of grain harvested

Actions required

Alert 2: Short supply of inputs and labour constrain seed production

The impact

  • COVID-19 and precautionary measures taken by government and society will likely disturb seed producers in their access to labour
  • Labourers much needed for seed production are reluctant to leave their homes for fear of catching the virus
  • Whilst in Tigray region, their movement between administrative areas is more restricted than elsewhere
  • Agro-input suppliers may also shut their doors to customers or face similar disruption in their supply chains to that of seed (see Alert 1)
  • 87% of respondents in the survey indicate that reduced access to inputs and labour poses a significant threat to early generation seed (EGS) and certified seed production in 2020
  • Labour is a key constraint to seed production, in particular for hybrid maize at the time of detasseling
  • As a result of limited access to labour, labour costs will likely increase and drive up the cost of production
  • The increased cost of production impacts upon the business model of seed companies, puts upward pressure on seed prices, and may result in less affordable quality seed being available next season
  • Coupled with the worsening plague of desert locusts in the country, the outlook for future seed and food availability is gloomy

Actions required

  • Develop new working conditions that apply the 1.5 metre distance restriction during routine field-based labour activities
  • Print pamphlets with illustrations of these and other precautionary safety measures that can be applied in the field
  • Distribute these through seed producers and local agriculture and labour offices to labourers to raise their awareness and confidence of safety
  • Broadcast the same messages over rural radio to increase their reach
  • Encourage labourers to frequently wash their hands with soap and water, and prioritize the use of hand sanitizer where water is unavailable
  • Screen, if possible test, and isolate labourers with symptoms in collaboration with health officers
  • Re-prioritize the supply of labour-saving technology to selected producers
  • Promote the use of mechanical cutting apparatuses for detasseling in hybrid maize seed production
  • Communicate virtually and frequently with producers to monitor progress
  • Regarding agro-input suppliers including farm service centres, follow the actions of Alert 1

Alert 3: Social distancing diminishes government’s capability to coordinate EGS supply

The impact

Actions required

Alert 4: Concern that substandard seed will make its way onto the market is heightened

The impact

  • COVID-19 and precautionary measures taken by government and society disturb seed supply chains and mobility of inspectors and input supervisors in seed markets
  • Close to two-third of the survey’s respondents (63%) share the concern that substandard seed will make its way onto the market
  • The use of substandard seed will have consequences on both the quantity and quality of farmers’ harvests
  • A poor crop and its harvest could spell catastrophe for farmers food and nutrition security and income generation at a time when grain prices are already beginning to soar

Actions required