Strengthening and enhancing seed systems is critical to ensure that released varieties reach the ultimate beneficiary — the farmer, and that farmers, especially smallholders, are able to access improved maize seed varieties from seed companies who are often key players in the maize value chain. This is why scientists working on seed systems at CIMMYT met with seed companies at the Uganda Seed Trade Association (USTA) meeting during 19-20 September 2012 in Kampala, Uganda. CIMMYT was represented by seed system specialists John MacRobert and Mosisa Worku, whose objective was to create awareness on new drought tolerant (DT) maize varieties and roadmaps for their seed production. The meeting was attended by 12 participants representing 9 seed companies, along with representatives from USTA.
MacRobert highlighted the importance of working with seed companies and USTA in delivering improved maize seed varieties to farmers, and explained the support CIMMYT provides to seed companies. Worku introduced the new CIMMYT DT maize varieties, while Godfrey Asea, maize research coordinator from the National Agricultural Research Organisation-Uganda, presented 11 recently released maize varieties originating from CIMMYT and/or a combination of CIMMYT materials and the national maize research materials. The seed companies were taught how to identify new DT maize varieties, how to request new varieties and their parental lines, and how to prepare seed road maps.
Following the meeting, the team visited Kenya Seed Company and Western Seed Company, in Kitale, Kenya, from 21-22 September. They traveled to Kenya Seed Company’s demonstration plots and discussed releasing DT varieties in mid-altitude areas in East Africa, as the company operates in other East African countries as well. At Western Seed Company, the team visited a nursery, trial sites, and demonstration plots. They also had the opportunity to observe the company’s DT maize varieties seed production activities and in exchange provided technical advice to the company.