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Program for Africa's Seed Systems

Woman in a greenhouseProviding the higher-yielding seed farmers need

In the face of climate change, emergence of new pests and diseases among other limiting factors, Africa will need high quality seeds that can tolerate tough conditions, and remain high yielding to ensure food security on the continent.

The ever growing population on the continent, which is estimated to be growing at fifty percent (50%) faster than gains in food productivity, will have a direct impact on food security. Without practical action, Africa's food deficit is projected to increase to 60 million tons and $14 billion dollars by the year 2020.

The Program for Africa's Seed Systems (PASS) provides the higher-yielding seeds farmers need to not only avoid such a crisis but also improve their own lives and those of their children.

African farmers have crop productivity below the global standard because they do not have access to improved adaptable seed varieties. Most of the available commercial seed varieties were developed and released more than 30 years ago, and they are now susceptible to several emerging challenges not limited to climate change.

To increase yield, PASS is establishing effective breeding and seed systems across Africa. In areas where PASS programs have been implemented, farmers are beginning to see the impact of planting better seed. The program supports country-level crop breeding teams who work closely with farmers to develop new varieties. It funds and trains local entrepreneurs who establish and grow private, independent seed companies to produce and distribute the seed.
The majority of farmers who accessed the improved seed have doubled their produce. Equally important, this seed is now being distributed through a network of local, rural enterprises dealing in agricultural inputs - a mode which holds the promise of sustainability.

To ensure that research continues over the long-term on African crops and maintains a steady pipeline of new varieties, PASS supports the education of African crop scientists. By the end of 2013, a total of 135 Master of Science degrees and 56 PhD students had graduated through fellowships funded by the PASS program.

PASS operates through four integrated sub-programs across the seed value chain. It begins with educating a new generation of plant breeders and seed specialists and ends with improved seed on the shelves of village-level agro dealers.

PASS sub-programs

  • Education for African Crop Improvement (EACI)
  • Fund For The Improvement and Adoption of African Crops (FIACC)
  • Seed Production for Africa (SEPA)
  • Agro Dealer Development Program (ADP)
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