National Seed Platform: Webinar on Business Models for Early Generation Seed Production

The Seed Sector Platform topic of the Collaborative Seed Programme (CSP) held the second quarterly platform event on the 14th of July 2022, titled “Business models for early generation seed production.” This aligns with its mandate of establishing and institutionalizing a functional national seed sector platform. The objectives of the webinar were to get insight into factors affecting the sustainability of EGS production and supply and get the perspectives of public stakeholders on how to reduce the gap in quality EGS supply. The virtual event spotlighted four (4) start-up organizations pioneering unique business models for EGS production and supply in the formal and informal seed systems.

The webinar had 103 participants in attendance and commenced with a welcome address from Dr. Philip Ojo, the Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC). In his speech, he highlighted the potential in the Nigerian seed sector and elaborated on the need for stakeholders to work towards developing a resilient seed sector. He also stressed the role of quality Early Generation Seed (EGS) in achieving food security and contributing to a vibrant and sustainable food system. Closing his address, Dr. Ojo officially opened the floor for deliberations.

Mr. Brighton Karume, the Managing Director of ECOBasic seed, gave the first keynote presentation on ECOBasic’s business model for maize EGS production. He mentioned the critical success pillars guiding his organization’s operations: independence, no competition or conflict of interest with customers (seed companies), and trustworthiness. He discussed the expected future impacts, forecasts, and sustainability of ECOBasic seeds. He highlighted some challenges faced in the system and recommendations, focusing mainly on the financial support required for EGS development.

In her keynote presentation, Dr. Elohor Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, a Seed Production Expert at IITA GoSeed, discussed her organization’s work in the seed sector and the drive to improve livelihoods through seed entrepreneurship. She further highlighted the organization’s five-prong approach to building a sustainable seed system focusing on cassava: EGS production & sales; entrepreneurship (seed producers); technology/innovations; quality control; training, and farm management & Partnerships. She explained IITA GoSeed’s operational challenges (field management, finance, high EGS production cost, logistics, and limited planting materials availability) and recommended mitigation approaches. In closing her presentation, Dr. Mercy urged more Agri-entrepreneurs across the country to come on board as seed producers, as there is high potential in the business.

Following the presentations, Dr. Walter de Boef, Senior Advisor System at Wageningen University and Research, moderated a panel discussion. The session had Dr. Anthony Job, a Senior Plant Breeder at Valu Basic Seeds, and Mr. ThankGod Nzenwa, the General Manager of Umudike Seeds, join Mr. Brighton and Dr. Mercy as panelists. The panel session was insightful as the speakers shared their different experiences in implementing the uniquely different EGS business models and the critical lessons they have learned in their journies. While delivering the final reflection, Dr. Kehinde Makinde, the AGRA Nigeria Country Manager, expressed his excitement on the insights from the webinar regarding the strides achieved by the enterprises in commercializing EGS production. He expressed his confidence and expectation in the commercial viability and sustainability of the seed business. Closing his speech, Dr. Makinde thanked all participants for being present and encouraged them to continue collaboration in the seed system.