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Discussing the importance of seed systems

As we endeavour to reach more farmers with improved varieties, seed systems are becoming increasingly important for CIMMYT in Africa, and a number of projects are generating germplasm to meet the varied abiotic and biotic challenges in smallholder agriculture. To improve effectiveness and collaboration amongst projects in seed systems activities, a coordination meeting was held on 3–4 July 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was attended by scientists from Global Maize Program (GMP) projects: Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA), New Seed Initiative for Maize in Southern Africa (NSIMA), Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA), Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Systems for the Eastern Province of Zambia (SIMLEZA), Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS), HarvestPlus, and Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA).

The agenda included seed initiatives in different countries, coordination between projects, seed production research priorities, demonstrations, and variety seed production. Seed road maps and seed delivery strategies for projects and/or countries working in partnership with seed companies and the National Agriculture Research Systems (NARS) were also discussed. Participants also considered more effective ways to convey key messages to stakeholders involved in seed delivery, the Socioeconomics Program’s involvement in maize seed systems, and global policy changes affecting seed systems. Special focus was placed on gender equity and the inclusion of female farmers in demonstrations and field days. Where male farmers form the majority, they should be encouraged to bring their wives and other female household members to field days and demonstrations to ensure family participation in decision making. However, following the results of a survey indicating that significant proportions of farms are managed by female-headed households, the group also recognised the need for developing promotional strategies specifically targeting women.


CIMMYT recognizes the growing importance of seed systems and is increasing its staff capacity accordingly to provide appropriate support and expertise. The latest additions to the team are seed systems specialists James Gethi and Mosisa Regasa.