AgVerify, AgResults’ seed quality verification partner in Uganda, applied for a Global Development Alliance (GDA), one of USAID’s models to support public-private partnerships. The GDA would fund portions of the maize inspection costs and support a campaign to promote AgVerify seed. The additional funds will also allow AgVerify to increase their seed verification activities and media outreach and ultimately work to create a fully functioning and trusted seed quality verification system in Uganda. AgVerify is a private sector seed quality verification consortium that is owned by Heartland Global, Chemiphar, and UgoCert and is a self-monitored, audited, and independently verified system that verifies seed to internationally recognized standards such as COMESA and ISTA.
The GDA would fund AgVerify’s maize seed quality verification program to ensure quality verified maize seed is sold on the Ugandan market. The funding mirrors the AgResults legume seed pilot program support for the verification of quality legume seeds but will be applied to maize inspection costs for six seasons but on a declining scale to slowly prepare seed companies to pay for the entire cost of verification. In addition to covering the verification costs, the GDA funds will be applied to a media and outreach campaign to promote AgVerify seeds and raise awareness of the benefit of using them over other unverified seeds. Part of this campaign has already started with a number of radio advertisements that promote seed companies participating in AgVerify.
AgVerify was originally created to help the Feed the Future AgInputs activity, a program funded by USAID that focused on increasing the production of maize, beans, and coffee through the appropriate use of high-quality agricultural inputs and decreasing prevalence of counterfeit agricultural inputs, like mislabeled seeds or diluted fertilizers in the market. The project recently came to an end and the GDA will allow AgVerify to continue to work on improved agricultural inputs and increase AgInputs impact.
When AgResults launched the Uganda Legume Seed Pilot, the initial design assumed that farmers would trust the quality of seed on the market. Unfortunately, a number of distortions artificially increased demand and created a lemons market for legume seed. Farmers lost faith in the quality of legume seed on the market and the pilot was nearly cancelled. AgVerify proved to be a crucial partner for AgResults as its seed quality verification scheme would reinstate farmers trust in the legume seed sector. AgResults and AgVerify entered into a formal partnership in December 2016 to create a legume seed quality verification scheme to which all seed companies joining the Uganda Pilot must also join. The AgResults and AgVerify partnership was a positive step towards creating a trusted legume seed sector. However, in order to grow beyond legume seed quality verification – which is AgResults’ primary focus in the pilot – AgVerify had to find other key revenue streams to create a strong and sustainable business model.
While the ultimate impact of the GDA remains unknown, AgResults is excited to see this development that will increase seed quality verification in Uganda. In addition to promoting the idea of verifying seed, the program will also enhance the public’s understanding and awareness of AgVerify, and by association, legume seeds sold by AgResults’ seed companies’.
GDAs have been USAID’s premier model for public-private partnerships in order to help improve the social and economic conditions in developing countries. Under a GDA, USAID works with the private sector to jointly identify, define, and solve key business and development challenges. Then they work to leverage their respective assets and expertise to advance core business interests and increase sustainable impact.