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Commercial Seed Production Clusters (CSPC)

Ensuring the food security of smallholder farmers through nurturing of commercial seed production clusters

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)-Melkassa Agricultural Research Center

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Woreda Agriculture Offices (BOAs), Irrigation Development Offices, and Seed Certification Centers from the public actors, and farmer-owned groups, cooperatives and micro-finance institutions will be important stakeholders situated in the zones of (East Shewa, Arsi, Bale, West Arsi, Halaba, West Gojjam, NW Tigray). Fertilizer, pesticide, manufacturers and machine dealers will be important partners among the private actors.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Adami T.J/K (1,275 Km^2), Tiyo (638 km^2), Sinana (900 km^2), Shalla (1200 km^2), Halaba (900 km^2), Mecha (1500 km^2), Selekleka (780 km^2)

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

My organization is mandated in improving the livelihoods of farmers through research and development interventions in the aforementioned locations. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Ethiopia is an agrarian country where 80% of the population is still dependent on agriculture as a means of livelihood. Much of the farm production is devoted to consumption by the household and limited surplus is marketed. The inhabitants of the areas often consume cereals in the form of injera (local bread) and porridge. Ensuring food and nutrition security remained to be a staggering problem where it is aggravated by the rapidly growing Ethiopian population and climate change.

In Ethiopia, the highlands of Arsi and Bale have adequate rainfall (altitude ranges from 2200-3000m asl) and are wheat belt areas that supply the largest portion of the grain to the central markets. In comparison, the farms in those areas are also better mechanized. Despite so, the supply could not meet up with the increasing agro-industries demand for wheat. The other zones of East Shewa and West Arsi have low to mid-agro-ecologies favorable for growing maize, teff, haricot bean, tropical fruits, and vegetables. The areas are relatively hotter and are susceptible to recurrent drought risks. Halaba (Southern region), Mecha (West Gojjam) and Selekleka (North West Tigray) have mid agro-ecology and are potential maize production areas.

Research institutes are responsible to adapt, develop and disseminate improved technologies of several commodities. So far, the multiplication of seed and distribution solely depended on the single government organization (Ethiopian Seed Enterprise). Recently, a number of enterprises are established at the regional level; however, farmers do not have adequate access to improved quality seeds and related technologies, such as mechanization and fertilizers. The involvement of the private in the seed sector is not only minimal but also gaps in seed production capacity is among the important challenges. The involvement of limited seed actors, Ill-functioning institutions, and regulation constrained the supply of technologies and restricted its access by many of the farming communities.  

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

In Ethiopia, maize is the second crop (both in terms of area and productions) grown in most parts of the country. Production and market supply is highly constrained by low crop management practices, technologies, and climate variability. Wheat is the fourth crop for the country, however, the country is a net importer of the grain to fulfill the demand by the agro-industries and the urban consumption.

The current agricultural output growth is more attributed to the expansion of areas for the majority of the crop commodities. Crop intensification through the uses of technologies, inputs, and mechanization is not up to the pertinent challenges. Commercial farming is also not growing well in response to the ever-increasing demand for food. Diversification of productions through irrigated farming options is taken as a promising alternative. The signs of progress are existent while results are not as envisaged. With the declining size of the farmlands and limited intensification efforts, the challenges that the country encounters will get more vigor in the future time. The soaring of food prices in the urban areas is the real manifestation of the situations and the complexity of the food system. The price of farm inputs is also raising explained by the general inflation and depreciation of exchange rates. This results in an increase in the costs of productions while resource-poor farmers could not sufficiently apply yield-enhancing technologies. 

The multi-faceted nature of the constraints that encountered the agricultural productions requires systematic solutions and strategies for the agrifood systems. The government nowadays would like to redirect attention to the proliferation of commercial farms in uncultivated lowland agro-ecologies of the country. This is expected to revolutionize the overall agricultural output. This needs to be supplemented by good access to improved seeds, inputs, finance, and skills and backups to the private actors. 

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

There is a common say, '' You are Reaping What You are Sowing''. If farmers do not plant improved seeds with the necessary production packages and make decisions by being guided by the internal and external market signals, it is not feasible to raise their efficiencies and achieve food security goals. 

To address the supply problems associated with the improved quality seed and related restrictions, the project has aimed to create commercial seed production clusters (CSPC) in the wheat belt and maize growing areas in the Oromia and Southern Nation Nationalities (SNNP) regions. The seed cluster intervention also includes Amhara and Tigray regions in Northern Ethiopia.  Business Incubation approach will be executed to come up with the development gaps. On a pilot scale, the institute is promoting the seed and mechanical technologies in the maize and haricot bean growing areas with the concept of Business Incubation approach. With the business incubation model, public-private partnerships and innovation platforms will be formed in each of the intervention areas. Melkassa Agricultural Research Center (MARC)- Agricultural Economics and Extension Research teams will organize the platform comprising, Kulumsa Agricultural Research Center, Bako Agricultural Research Center, Agricultural Development Offices, Credit institutions, Seed Certification, and Regulation Offices, dealers of farm machines, farmers, farmer unions, and unemployed youth. 

The research institutes will be sources of improved seeds, mechanical technologies (planters, modern plow and storage), capacity development, coordination of project implementations, joint and participatory monitoring and evaluations. It also includes periodic reporting to platforms and donors. The stakeholders, such as Agricultural Development Offices, Unions, Credit Institutions, Certification due roles by providing necessary supports in the seed business incubation process. Technical backups, inputs and finance, and seed market linkages are to be part and parcel of the incubation project.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Improving access to technologies is a promising pathway for enhancing farm productivity, food, and nutrition security. The community-based approach enables us to disseminate information faster to the user community as the seed producer organizations are not well addressing the farmers in terms of coordination, quality, timeliness, and proximity. The project intends to tackle the supply gaps due to the low involvement of the private, high transaction costs, infrastructure problems in rural areas, information gaps, seed regulations, and norms. Ultimately, the intervention enhances the number of farmers that could access technologies, widens area coverage, introduces new actors to the system and also the seed value chain will increase efficiency in terms of transmitting crop management skills among farmers. 

The project will lapse during the period of 2020-2025. About 128 seed clusters will be formed who will receive improved seeds, capacity development, and the necessary linkages. The outreach target is about 1.4 million to 1.6 million farmers in the five year period, excluding the farmer to farmer seed exchange (f2f). Apart from the seed technologies, about 840 plows, 840 maize shellers, 840 planters, 840 improved storages, and 128 seed cleaning machines will be supplied to the seed clusters. The project aims to raise the productivity of the beneficiary farmers of wheat and maize crops by 30% from the averages of 3 to 3.9 tons/ha and 3.8 to 5 tons/ha, respectively.

The larger impacts are changes in farm outputs, market supply, and food and nutrition security.  It gives an evidence-based lesson to promote and duplicate seed production clusters in other locations and regions in Ethiopia. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The inclusion of the vulnerable societies is the focus of the project and strongly connected to overcoming environmental challenges. Production of wheat and maize is being affected by the changing climate. The expansion of wheat to the semi-arid climate and the pastoral community is an on-going effort that is undertaken very recently. The market linkage component is aimed at the dissemination of produced seeds to the newly emerging pastoral and commercial farms. The research is striving to promote early maturing and drought-tolerant maize varieties in the susceptible climates. The climate-sensitive technologies also were not promoted adequately. The project extends past research outputs and developments, and have impacts on the output growth in agriculture through promoting the already availed agricultural technologies. In the long term, the seed clusters are expected to diversify the seed business to the high-value vegetables and pulse crop commodities.

Agriculture is considered to be the engine of economic growth and propeller of the rest wings, i.e., the service and industry sectors. It is highly relied on for the envisaged transformation, dependable supplier of adequate raw material for the industry and reach the level of a middle-income country in the coming decade. Apparently, this could only be achieved by the aggressive intensification of agriculture by improving access to agricultural technologies and boosting farm productivity. Thus, due to the services and supports provided during the lifetime of the project (5 years) and spillovers beyond, the intervention has an influence on the achievement of the national policy targets and goals. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Team (2)

yared deribe's profile
Abebe's profile
Abebe Gurmu

Role added on team:

"Abebe Teshome is a researcher in the Agricultural Extension department in the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research Institute (EIAR)-Melkassa Research Center. He got about 8 years of services in the agricultural economics and technology transfer related issues. He has been actively involved in the dissemination of improved agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers and community-based seed production interventions."

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Attachments (2)


Introducing haricot bean threshers and storage technologies for seed production groups


Introducing haricot bean threshers and storage technologies for seed production groups


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