A new vision guiding seed sector transformation

A self-sufficient, independent, market-oriented and internationally competitive Ethiopian seed sector.

This is the vision of stakeholders who, from their diverse positions and perspectives, explored what transformation in the seed sector looks like, what it means for their roles, and how such transformation increases farmers’ income and wider food security.

Transformation of the Ethiopian seed sector requires a shift in thinking. It requires stakeholders in the sector to examine their role, their contribution, and their ambition. It starts though, with understanding the sector and the diverse range of actors and processes within it.

This was the starting point for discussions on April 20th-21st in Bishoftu. Circa thirty representatives of various public and industry bodies came together to assess the status of the Ethiopian seed sector at regional and national levels, and their roles in the governance of the seed sector.

The goal of the workshop was to take this understanding of the seed sector and its governance, agree on clear priorities for change and formulate a joint vision towards which collective transformational efforts could be harmonised.

Visioning seed sector in 2040
The Ethiopian seed sector is in a state of change. New systems and innovations are taking hold and the workshop enabled varied expertise to collaboratively reflect on whether all actors’ activities are working toward the same vision. With eyes on the future, individual and regional priorities were shared and debated, with an initial vision statement showing agreement on the path ahead:

“In 2040, the seed sector contributes to increased productivity, food security and income. It is self-sufficient, economically viable and efficient in its delivery of high quality, whilst ensuring availability, accessibility and affordability to the farmer. It is competitive internationally and harmonized regionally. The sector is market‐oriented, able to adapt and innovate continuously and is inclusive of different actors’ needs. Biodiversity is maintained through the sector’s conservation of plant genetic resources and provision of a diverse range of crops and varieties. The sector is environmentally sustainable. Furthermore, the seed sector in Ethiopia is well‐organized, ‐ coordinated and –regulated, and is independent and transparent in its dealings.”

Guiding transformation through sector governance
AidEnvironment, a Dutch ‘value-driven consultancy’, has developed a sector governance framework. BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia in collaboration with its partners at regional state and national levels is operationalising the framework to guide transformation in the Ethiopian seed sector.

The framework promotes a more coordinated approach to drive seed sector transformation at scale. The roles that various actors traditionally played in the seed sector have changed and continue to do so mainly due to widespread and on-going policy reform and shifting economic and environmental contexts.

The framework calls on actors to take a bird’s-eye view of the sector to realise its integrated nature and aim for ‘seas of change’ instead of ‘islands of success’. During the workshop, attendees separated into groups and envisioned transformation in each of the blocks, with the below outputs discussed in plenary:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transformational strategy on the ground
Strategies formed at regional level are key to achieving the changes prescribed in the blocks. Regional core groups and other participants discussed the current situation in their region for each block and what needs to change for this vision to be realised.

Leading seed sector transformation in each region, new ‘seed units’ were contemplated. These would operate separately from the input directorates of the Bureau of Agriculture. In Tigray though, the need for a separate seed unit goes one step further, with regional players envisaging a completely autonomous seed coordinating agency. For all regions though, clear expectations of what such bodies would deliver were agreed as 1) providing overall leadership and coordination; 2) coordinating the identification of systemic challenges; 3) further developing and sharing the initial shared vision and strategy for transformation; 4) steering stakeholders in follow-up strategies and implementation; and 5) monitoring and evaluating performance.

Next steps
The full report of the event is available here. The report details all of the discussion and regional strategies and action points. Regional core groups have taken their initial plans from the workshop back to the regions for extended consultation with wider groups of stakeholders. This collaborative analysis will further inform the best forms of governance for that specific region’s transformational ambitions.

Throughout this process, ISSD value chain experts and staff from the project management unit in Addis Ababa will facilitate information exchange and offer strategic advice and support. This will help the national seed unit to develop a national seed sector governance strategy which considers and aligns to the unique situations across the regions.