Integrated Seed Sector Development in the Sahel



Thirty-two per cent of the Nigerien population and 21 per cent of the Malian population still struggle with food and nutrition insecurity. Sustainable intensification of food crop production can address this and, at the same time, provide economic opportunities. To this end, high-quality seeds are essential. This project will ensure the availability and use of quality seeds through the establishment of a commercially viable and self-sustaining seed sector.

The first such intervention in Niger

“I am very excited about the arrival of the ISSD/Sahel project in the seed environment in Niger. It will no doubt strengthen the Ministry of Agriculture in its efforts to clean up the seed sector in Niger,” said Mr Mahamane Elhadji Ousmane, Director of Cabinet at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Niger, at the launch of the project. 

Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD)/Sahel will focus on the development of new commercial seed producers, professionalising seed traders, mobilizing Dutch and international private seed sector expertise for the seed sector in the countries, and the large-scale promotion of quality seeds.

This project is the first such intervention in Niger. The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Niger, Paul Tholen, highlighted this at the launch “With the Dutch Embassy opening in Niger in 2020, the ISSD/Sahel project is the beginning of our interventions to strengthen food and nutrition security in Niger.”

I am very excited about the arrival of the ISSD/Sahel project in the seed environment in Niger. It will no doubt strengthen the Ministry of Agriculture in its efforts to clean up the seed sector in Niger

Mr. Mahamane Elhadji Ousmane
Director of Cabinet at Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Niger

Ensuring food and nutrition security

The overall goal of this project is to ensure the food and nutrition security of 180,000 households and improve rural employment and income. More specifically, the project aims to increase productivity of priority crops including cereals (pearl millet, sorghum, maize and rice), legumes (cowpea and groundnut) and vegetables (onions, cabbage, eggplant, tomato and okra) by improving farmers’ access to and use of quality seed of improved varieties and public and agribusiness based advisory services.

This project will be led by IFDC, in consortium with KIT, Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). 

As with all ISSD related activities, KIT also closely collaborates with the Wageningen Center for Development and Innovation. KIT’s role will be to provide support to seed sector analyses and development at the national and regional level, as well as capacity building and innovations in the organisation of seed production from early generation seed, to certified seed and quality assured local multiplication of seed by different actors along the seed value chain.

Accessible and affordable quality seed

Furthermore, the aim is to ensure accessible and affordable quality seed for smallholder farmers, combined with agricultural advisory services and access to other key inputs via a decentralised, last-mile delivery system. We will work in close collaboration with seed companies, farmer cooperatives, agro-dealers and seed sales agents to support smallholder farmers to increase their production. In addition, through the seed sector development work, the project aims to increase the incomes of the individual commercial seed producers who provide produce for the local market and/or are out growers for a seed company.

KIT also provides the linkage with seed sector development projects and initiatives in other countries in Africa via the ISSD Africa community of practice and facilitates exchange, cross-learning and synergies between different seed sector initiatives. Finally, KIT supports the development of the theory of change, the Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Sharing (MELS) master plan, a data collection system and a project dashboard to track progress in real-time, in close collaboration with IFDC, ICRISAT and SAA.

Planned Results

In addition to the goal of improving food and nutrition security other outcomes include:

  • Adoption of quality seeds from priority crops by 180,000 farming households, improving food security and diversity of diets in Mali and Niger. 
  • A 30% increase in incomes of farm households that have adopted the use of quality seeds from a priority crop. 
  • A 100% increase in the number of private basic seed producers, and at least a 50% increase in basic and pre-basic seed production volumes produced by private producers.
  • Additional permanent employment in the seed sector for young people and women.
  • Increased incomes for women involved in commercial seed production.