Integrated Seed Sector Development in Ethiopia

The Integrated Seed Sector Development Programme in Ethiopia (ISSD Ethiopia) is aimed at transforming the Ethiopian seed sector. Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation coordinates the national effort to increase the availability and use of new, improved and farmer-preferred varieties of seeds. With our partners in the regional states of Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray, we are strengthening and integrating seed systems. Together, we have reached over three and a half million farmers.

As part of the BENEFIT Partnership (Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort on Food, Income and Trade), ISSD Ethiopia contributes to increased quantity and quality of sustainable agricultural production, improved markets and trade, and an enabling environment for agriculture in Ethiopia. To achieve this, ISSD Ethiopia works towards the development of a vibrant, pluralistic and market oriented seed sector.

Facilitating innovation across seed systems

Informal seed systems account for more than 80% of seed sown by farmers in Ethiopia. Our intervention in informal seed systems sees farmers and farmer groups improve their seed management practices. To introduce new improved and adapted varieties, ISSD Ethiopia engages in some of the largest participatory variety selection in the world. By the end of the programme, a vast number of varieties of the most important crops for food and nutrition security in Ethiopia will have been deployed to, tested and selected by 36,000 farmers, at least half of whom are women, through the approach known as crowdsourcing.

In intermediary seed systems we support the development of sustainable local seed businesses (LSBs). Experts employed by the programme from multiple disciplinary backgrounds train, coach, supervise and monitor seed producer cooperatives in becoming technically equipped, market oriented, professionally organized and strategically linked in the production and marketing of quality seed. Supported LSBs produce at present close to 30,000 tonnes of quality seed of more than 20 different cereal, pulse and oilseed crops and well over 5,000 tonnes of quality seed potatoes.

ISSD Ethiopia also supports both private small-, medium- and large-scale companies and parastatal seed enterprises in formal seed systems. Our experts provide similar services to what is on offer to LSBs, but tailored in professionalizing and orienting these companies to the market. Recognizing that many players have a place in offering different quality seed products to the market, ISSD Ethiopia also brokers direct foreign investment and trade by Dutch/international companies in Ethiopia.

National transformation 

ISSD Ethiopia addresses bottlenecks in seed value chains across these seed systems and works to improve the enabling environment for seed sector. The project puts strong emphasis on strengthening the capacities of seed professionals.

To address regulatory constraints, ISSD Ethiopia facilitates high-level consultations, workshops and evidence sharing. The programme is now recognised nationally as a key partner in seed sector transformation. Endorsed at the highest levels, a collaboratively developed transformation agenda has been adopted to deliver on the national vision for the seed sector.

Targeted outcomes

Increased availability and use of quality seed by:

  • Increased production and dissemination/marketing of quality seed by seed producers;
  • Increased demand for and availability of new, improved and farmer preferred varieties;
  • Enhanced business orientation and financial viability of different seed producers;
  • Women having improved access to and use of quality seed of their preference;
  • Food and nutrition secured through increased crop and variety diversity.

Enhanced performance of seed value chains by:

  • Strengthened linkages between seed producers and input and service providers;
  • Increased business opportunities for Dutch/international companies;
  • Piloted demand-driven seed value chain interventions appraised and scaled.

Improved enabling environment for the seed sector by:

  • Evidence based innovations embedded in policy frameworks and put into practice;
  • Strengthened position of the Ethiopian Seed Association in representing private sector interests.