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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

African seed health: case study

African seed health: case study

The growth of African indigenous vegetables have provided smallholders with both food security and income. Effective farmer-led seed production models for smallholders are improving the quality of seed, meaning that a higher proportion of crops can be sold.

Farmer with healthy crop of Amaranth

Improving access to quality seeds in Africa

African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) have traditionally contributed significantly to food security, nutrition and incomes for smallholder farmers in East Africa. However, lack of good quality seed has hampered farmers in meeting the growing demand. This case study shows how CABI scientists tested three farmer-led seed production models in Kenya and Tanzania. We promoted access to good quality seeds and helped stakeholders develop the necessary skills to establish and manage seed production and marketing enterprises.


294 farmers linked to seed companies

A CABI team helped almost 300 farmers set up a contract with a subset of the Kenya Seed Company Ltd. called the Simlaw Seed Company. Farmers were trained in the regulation involved in seed production, post-harvest handling, processing, packaging and marketing. This gave the farmers more weight within the market.

Farmers with better seeds

We helped increase seed quantity

There are now significantly larger amounts of Amaranthus; African nightshade; Jute mallow; and Crotalaria being produced. This has led to an average increase of US$3,000 in farmer's income. The sucess of the project is demonstrated by enthusiam from neighbouring districts to be included in a similar project in the future.

NERICA rice in field

New practises result in less rejection

The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) are advising farmers on seed quality. By working with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), farmers are able to manufacture old and new varieties of seed with the certification to be marketed both nationally and internationally.

We aim to help those who rely on seed production to maximize their output and improve the quality of the goods they produce.

Aiding food security in a sustainible way is one of our key objectives.

By providing smallholders with resources on how to establish themselves as sellers within the market and improving their seed quality, we are able to aid farmers in ensuring a sustainable income with which to feed their family.


Guaranteeing credit to coffee farmers in Ethiopia and Rwanda

Coffee is one of the largest traded commodities in the world, providing livelihoods for 25 million farming families, and is crucial to many countries’ GDP. In places such as Ethiopia and Rwanda, coffee plays a critical role in the economy and revitalising coffee production and quality is vital; allowing farmers to attract premiums and improve... >>

Promoting good seed in East Africa

African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) are key to food security and income generation in Africa and are increasing in demand. Not only will CABI’s project team be promoting their consumption and generating more demand, we will also be building awareness of the vegetable and the seeds, improving access to them and developing new varieties. >>

Controlling pest pear in Laikipia

Pastoralists in northern Kenya are heavily dependent on livestock. Their lives are being devastated by the non-native cactus Opuntia stricta. This weed has invaded the last good grazing land and when livestock and wildlife eat its fruits the spines can cause infection and death. Chemical and mechanical control methods are expensive and... >>

Toolkits for invasive plants in East Africa

Many plants introduced to East Africa have escaped cultivation and are wreaking havoc. These invasive species are reducing biodiversity and negatively impacting livelihoods. Little is known about the number of invasive plant species present here, or their impact. This project aims to use communication technologies to improve the ability of... >>

Using insects to improve smallholders’ livestock production and food security in West Africa

Poultry farming is practised by almost all smallholder farmers in West Africa but feed and protein sources are becoming increasingly expensive here, affecting meat and egg production and reducing family income. Fish farmers suffer a similar problem. We are promoting the use of insects, which are a natural food source for poultry and fish, and... >>

RUFORUM: Building agricultural universities’ capacity throughout Africa

Universities play an important and largely unfulfilled role in the well-being of small-scale farmers and the economic development of countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) supports universities to address this important role. Established in 2004, RUFORUM is a... >>

Institutionalizing the quality of commercial products

The soil in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa is hampering the production of good quality and plentiful crops. Many new bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and other agro-inputs have been developed and commercialized but often haven’t been properly assessed. CABI, working with partners, is supporting increased knowledge and information available to... >>