Uganda seed sector alerts

Uganda seed sector assessment

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

Seed sector assessments identify current challenges and urgent action in the Nigerian seed sector, based on surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders. Below, please find the most recent seed alert for Uganda 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: Mobility restrictions hamper processes of variety development and release

The impact

  • COVID-19 measures reduce the mobility of researchers and others involved in variety development, selection and release, and this will affect the number of new varieties released in 2020
  • Breeding materials prepared at CGIAR Centers and other sources outside Uganda have not reached the country due to transport restrictions; for example, only 25% of planned maize trials could actually be established, thus limiting the improved germplasm from which to select more productive varieties
  • Breeders face challenges in reaching breeding nurseries and on-station trials, as well as collecting data on established participatory variety selection (PVS) on-farm trials
  • The April meeting of the variety release committee has been cancelled
  • Although the current crisis is not the moment to ask farmers to try new varieties, a continuous flow of new varieties into the sector is needed to improve crop productivity

Actions required

  • Develop standard operation procedures (SOPs) for field operations to guide researchers, technicians, and labourers, including the provision of sanitizers and face masks
  • Ensure that farmers who are hosting PVS trials are aware of government measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19, and work according to them
  • Collaborate with courier services, in-country and internationally, to move breeding materials where they are required
  • Support early preparations for missed seasonal breeding trials, so that experiments can be established in the 2020B season
  • Engage National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) management to allow breeders to travel for more than one day to collect critical data from their offstation trials
  • Engage the Ministry of Works and Transport to allocate car stickers for breeders at NARO institutes
  • With hotels being closed, gazette a few rooms in former government hotels to host traveling researchers and other essential experts
  • Use Information Technology (IT) applications to have farmers supporting breeders in data collection on on-farm trials for issues like disease and pest infestation
  • Make the necessary preparations for an online meeting of the variety release committee; this may be a starting point to change the offline variety release system into an online one

Alert 2: Mobility restrictions hamper the production of quality basic seed

The impact

  • Most, though not all, basic seed producers have been supplied with the necessary pre-basic (breeder) seed just before the COVID-19 lockdown
  • However, the current COVID-19 measures pose challenges to the transport and distribution of the agricultural inputs needed for quality basic seed production
  • Restrictions on public transport and rules on social distancing (keeping 4 meters distance) are resulting in a labour shortage
  • Mobility restrictions also hamper MAAIF inspectors in assuring the quality of the basic seed currently in the field
  • It is expected that basic seed quantities in the next season 2020 will not be sufficient
  • This may result in seed producers using other seed classes to produce commercial seed, resulting in increased amounts of substandard seed on the market

Actions required

  • With agricultural inputs designated as essential services, the District Local Governments (DLGs) should take affirmative action to ensure basic seed producers have access to the necessary agricultural inputs
  • Seek opportunities to replace human labour with other options, such as replacing manual weeding with herbicides, and look into options for mechanisation that are currently not being used
  • Create awareness among seed business entrepreneurs on the SOPs in the prevention of COVID-19 spread, and warmly welcome those providing inspection services
  • Put a high priority on the inspection of early generation seed (EGS) involving the authorized District Agricultural Officers (DAOs) and MAAIF field inspectors
  • Speed up the development of the digital seed tracing and tracking system (STTS), providing insight into the demand and supply of EGS

Alert 3: Mobility restrictions hamper access to inputs, labour, and services for quality seed

The impact

Actions required

  • Engage the District COVID-19 Taskforces and security forces to allow the transportation and distribution of agri-inputs to the last mile as an essential service
  • Encourage agro-dealers to work with farmer seed entrepreneurs to provide inputs on credit to ease their cash flow challenges
  • Create awareness and ensure adherence of seed production workers to COVID-19 safety guidelines
  • Encourage government and seed company technical staff to provide virtual seed extension services to seed producers through phone calls
  • Advise seed producers on the use of labour saving technologies, like integrated weed management options (herbicides)
  • Engage district agricultural officers and inspectors to take proactive measures reaching out to seed producers to collect planting returns and schedule inspections
  • Encourage field inspectors to prioritize inspection services, even if payment for the service is delayed
  • Engage the District COVID-19 Taskforces through MAAIF to allow their Production Department vehicles be used for field inspection
  • Request MAAIF to provide the required logistics to seed inspectors to do their routine audit inspections in the regions

Alert 4: Mobility measures restrict farmers’ access to inputs and quality seed

The impact

  • Government measures on COVID-19 have hampered the transportation and distribution of agri-inputs to both urban and rural agri-input shops, leading to limited availability to farmers
  • Travel restrictions severely limit farmers in their access to agri-inputs and seeds
  • Restrictions on public gatherings, including rural markets, with the exception of food markets, hampers promotional events (like seed fairs) for quality seed and other inputs
  • Public transport restrictions increase the costs of agri-input deliveries, making them less affordable to farmers
  • Reduced access to agri-inputs and quality seed directly affects crop productivity, which may result in food and nutritional insecurity

Actions required

  • Engage with the District COVID-19 Taskforces to facilitate easy movement of essential agri-inputs to areas where movement authorization is not yet permitted by the authorities, but in accordance with COVID-19 SOPs
  • Develop an effective coordination mechanism to facilitate availability and access to agri-inputs throughout the country
  • Promote seed companies utilizing their cargo trucks to stock upcountry dealers with enough inputs to avoid shortages
  • Encourage seed companies and agro-dealers close to farmers to embrace the delivery of inputs to farmers, with farmers ordering via phone and paying using mobile money
  • Encourage farmers to make input purchases through local extension agents and farmers’ associations, which are free to move using motorbikes
  • Continue monitoring agro-dealers selling inputs to ensure quality inputs to the market and to minimize substandard inputs that may lead to losses on the farmers’ side