‘More research on seeds needed’

Business Reporter
THE African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) — a grouping of private seed companies on the continent — wants to work closely with the agricultural value chain to bolster food security in the face of the debilitating effects of climate change.

AFSTA president Mr Denias Zaranyika, who is also the MD of Seed Co in Zimbabwe, told the organisation’s 2017 Congress in Dakar, Senegal last week that the challenges facing seed companies were “certainly not insurmountable” if partnerships for sharing research and knowledge were explored.

“AFSTA believes in the vast opportunities in Africa. We see a future for seed trade and through it answers to the problems of hunger, nutrition, markets and production.

“We see opportunity for partnership and collaboration with other input suppliers, farmer organisations, agricultural policy makers and output market players.

“AFSTA sees an opportunity to make a difference because we are committed to Africa’s agriculture-led development agenda.

“Where others see the challenges of climate change, we see an opportunity to make our research, breeding, production, extension support and market fit for purpose and relevant to the felt-needs of African farmers,” said Mr Zaranyika.

AFSTA works closely with African governments on matters pertaining
to agriculture policy and trade dialogue.

In 2003, African Heads of State adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in Mozambique to steer
agriculture-led development; wealth and job creation; and empower
women.

Also in 2014, the AU adopted the Malabo Declaration to enhance investment in agriculture; end hunger in Africa by 2025; halve poverty by 2025; boost intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services; and enhance livelihoods and production systems in the wake of climate variability and related risks.

“AFSTA can do no less than embrace and support the CAADP principles. But more importantly, the African Union’s aspiration is for Africa to be a strategic player in agricultural science and technology development.

“This is a direct call and challenge for AFSTA to play a meaningful part. Seed is not grain. Seed is a technology and AFSTA is committed to encouraging its members to continue to invest in seed science, technology and skills,” said Mr Zaranyika.

Climate change, which has brought two extreme weather patterns in El Nino and La Nina, has negatively affected farmers across Africa.

Researchers are developing seed
varieties that can survive the increasingly frequent patterns of drought and flood.

Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns could lead to food price increases of between 3 percent and 84 percent by 2050.

AFTSA, which was established in 2000, has been promoting trade
in quality seeds and technology in Africa.

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