On Thursday, February 2, AgResults officially launched its Uganda Legume Seed Pilot in order to improve access and availability of high-quality legume seeds to improve health and nutritional outcomes of people living in Uganda.
“We welcome such an initiative to build a vibrant private sector that provides healthy and affordable legume crops to all Ugandans,” said Opolot Okasaai, Director Crop Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, who presided over the event, “By using these cash prizes, we will work to ensure our markets are strong and sustainable for years to come.”
In addition to Mr. Okasaai, the launch was attended by representatives from major seed companies operating in Uganda, AgResults donor organizations, government ministries, agro-input distributors and dealers, and development partners involved in seeds and related agro-inputs. Seed companies who are participating in the pilot were able to display legume seed varieties that will be produced and sold during the pilot implementation period. The overwhelming attendance from the various actors in the development and seed sectors showed strong support for such a new and innovative approach to improving seed markets in Africa.
The AgResults Uganda Legume Seed Pilot operates a pull mechanism (also known as a prize competition) in order to incentivize seed companies to overcome market barriers and enter into the legume seed market in Uganda. The pilot provides cash awards to those companies who are able to expand and diversify in the legume seed value chain. Through this approach, the initiative works to build a stronger, more competitive, and sustainable legume seed market that serves all Ugandans and beyond.
In addition to providing cash incentives, AgResults, together with Lutheran World Relief (LWR), who acts as the pilot manager, facilitates access to humidity and temperature-controlled storage to participating seed companies to encourage them to increase production and sales of improved high quality legume seeds as much as possible and allowing the seed companies to re-invest and grow their business year to year. By making conditioned seed storage facilities available, the pilot will partially insulate seed companies against losing quality seed and selling it as grain, uncertain demand, and against price volatility.
In order to ensure seeds are not counterfeit, AgResults has contracted AgVerify™, a private sector company that runs a self-monitored, audited, and independently verified system that quality verifies legume seed in Uganda to internationally recognized seed standards, such as COMESA and International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). AgVerify is owned by a consortium of Heartland Global, Chemiphar, and UgoCert. By providing an e-verification of area, volume, quality, location, production, and sales data through a hand-held Android app, and associated cloud-based data storage facility, yields are improved, reinforcing seed quality to farmers and creating a demand for labeled seed products and generating a premium for these quality goods.
AgResults Uganda pilot will last for five years with LWR acting as the pilot manager.