Thursday, August 11, 2022

Business Models For Early Generation Seed Production

Ekum Ojogu.
Ekum Ojogu.

The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) has been working to ensure the provision of adequate quality seeds for our teeming farmers, with the view of enhancing productivity.

As part of activities to sensitise the public about its efforts, the council recently held its National Seed Platform Webinar series organised as part of the Collaborative Seed Programme (CSP) activities, themed “Business Model for Early Generation Seed (EGS) Production”. 

In his opening remarks, the director-general, NASC, Dr. Philip Ojo, emphasised that the management of EGS was very crucial to the success of any seed programme. He charged all EGS producers to devise profitable business models that would guarantee the production of high-quality EGS at the lowest possible cost, to meet the current and future demands for quality seed, thereby reducing the supply gap. 

While declaring open the 2022 edition of the National Seed Sector Platform webinar, he enjoined all stakeholders to put in place an adequate forecasting system required for consistent EGS supply to meet quality and timing requirements geared towards agricultural productivity. 

A keynote presentation titled “Ecobasic Business Model for Maize EGS supply” by the managing director, Ecobasic Seed Company, Mr. Brighton Karume outlined the company’s mission statement which is to produce foundation seeds of the highest quality and purity, to enhance the profitability of seed companies in West Africa. 

According to him, the company’s business model aims at supporting genetic gain aspiration through enhanced speed-to-market with better, newer hybrids/varieties; generating hybrid seed demand, therefore, increasing the adoption rate; solving systemic EGS bottlenecks in a commercially sustainable way, creating a robust and efficient route to market publicly developed seed-based technologies; effectively mitigates risks associated with foundation seed production and ensure cost-effectiveness for all interested parties – seed companies, research organisations, development partners, etc.

He further noted that the company sustainability plan is centred on demand-driven production of foundation seed according to signed contracts with customers, uninterrupted flow of breeder’s seed, enhanced genetic purity and quality, consistency and timeliness and effective supply and demand planning. This model will create a continuous supply that fosters reliability and provide specialised infrastructures to leverage aggregation and economies of scale. 

Another presentation titled “Quality Cassava Early Generation Seed Production in IITA Goseed and the Future Ahead” anchored by seed production expert, IITA GoSeed, Dr. Elohor Mercy Dibiru-Ojo, highlighted the five-pronged approach to a sustainable seed system which includes EGS production and sales, entrepreneurship development, technology/innovations, quality control and training, farm management and partnerships.

Its mission statement is to offer high-quality breeder and foundation seeds of the best genetic varieties at affordable prices to improve farmers’ productivity and profitability. Its vision is to be recognised as Africa’s leading pathway for the distribution of clean genetic varieties of generative and vegetative crops developed from the best technologies, fundamental to improving the yield and productivity of farmers, eradicating farm-level poverty and enhancing consumer nutrition levels. IITA GoSeed activities are aimed at the overall goal of building a sustainable seed system that would ensure food security and improve livelihoods through income-generation, job-creation and economic empowerment.

Anthony Job of Valu Basic Seeds noted that his organization engaged in EGS production to guarantee the quality and quantity of required seeds and to expand production of the seeds for farmers in need of the service.

ThankGod Nzenwa of Umudike Seeds stated that his organisation is addressing the gap in the seed system by entering into partnerships with entrepreneurs who have direct interests in quality seeds and have links with farmers. They have taken advantage of technology to rapidly multiply improved varieties for farmers.

On her part, Diebiru-Ojo emphasized that for an EGS company to thrive, it needs to focus and production and demand trends have to be looked into so that it does not run out of business and avoid genetic erosion. “There is also a need for the involvement of public/government institutions to sustainably ensure that they support EGS companies to conserve some of the crops that don’t have demand.”

Mr. Karume of Ecobasic noted that the company’s product strategy is based on customer demand. The focus crops at the moment are hybrid maize and PBR cowpea. “Our marketing units approach customers who are in three segments; the hybrid space, multinationals and those of the publicly bred materials. We work with seed companies demonstrating the potential of our materials while, at the same time, working to make them our target customers and building trust in the seed space.”

The country manager, AGRA Nigeria, Dr. Kehinde Makinde in his reflection thanked the organisers of the webinar for the insights and visibility as well as the progress made by the EGS companies. He noted that EGS remains very critical for the sustenance of the seed business. He applauded the fact that local entrepreneurs are already commercialising the seed space with very strong business strategies and aggressive market development.

Ojogu is an agric seed sector and food security expert with the National Agricultural Seeds Council. He can be reached via ojekum@yahoo.com.

Ekum Ojogu
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