Sahel Consulting held its maiden edition of the Sahel Knowledge Series

Sahel Consulting held its maiden edition of the “Sahel Knowledge Series” on Friday, 20th of May 2022. The knowledge-sharing platform was established to raise awareness of the transformative initiatives and programs in the food ecosystem among key actors and stakeholders and encourage partners to share ideas and innovations that support the development of the agricultural sector. Over a hundred participants attended the session and themed “The Role of the Seed Sector in Food System Transformation.”

In setting the scene, Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, the Executive Chair of Sahel Consulting, highlighted that the company opened its in-house knowledge sharing program to the public to equip stakeholders in the sector with the right skills, insights, and network needed to transform the food ecosystem. She shared further that the topic of discussion, the role of the seed sector in food system transformation, is essential in increasing the productivity of rural Nigerian farmers.

Following the welcome address, Temitope Adegoroye, the Managing Partner of Sahel Consulting, gave a detailed introduction to the organization and how it is transforming the African agriculture and nutrition landscape through implementing various high impact initiatives and programs. To begin the discussion on the role of the seed sector in food system transformation, Chinedu Agbara, a Senior Manager at Sahel Consulting, introduced the keynote speaker, Walter De Boef, a senior advisor at the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI). During the introduction, he also reiterated the importance of ensuring that critical actors in the sector understand the connection between the food system and the seed sector.

Walter commenced his keynote presentation by highlighting the role of the seed sector in food system transformation. He emphasized how the Seed Alerts (an initiative that identified challenges and urgent actions needed to address the impact of COVID-19 on the seed sector) and the National Seed Roadmap for Nigeria (NSRM) had increased awareness of the importance of building a resilient, commercially viable, and sustainable seed sector. Building on the findings from the Seed Alerts and the NSRM, the ongoing Collaborative Seed Programme (CSP) was launched to improve farmers’ access to and use of quality seeds of improved varieties.

Walter shared several case studies to accentuate that actions taken to address seed sector challenges lead to thriving seed sector and food system. He highlighted some case studies in Nigeria showing their seed sector and food system impacts. They include: the establishment of an early generation seed company – ECO-Basic Seed – focused on hybrid maize foundation seed production and distribution; the NextGen & BASICS-II projects focused on developing new cassava varieties and promoting farmers’ access to improved cassava stems for farmers; and the CSP’s Variety Release topic that is piloting innovations to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the crop variety release system to deliver high-performing and well-adapted varieties. He also underscored case studies in other African countries where WCDI is involved in seed sector transformations, such as Uganda – the adaptation of quality assurance to multiple seed systems – and Mali/Niger – enhancing the capacity of local seed companies/distributors.

Walter’s closing remarks emphasized that seed sector transformation is non-linear and dynamic. As a result, he concluded that there are numerous opportunities to explore and consider effectively addressing the seed sector’s challenges. Achieving a resilient food system in Africa is strongly linked to a functional and efficient seed sector.

The event ended with the closing address delivered by Anthonia Taiwo-Ajayi, the Human Resource Manager of Sahel Consulting. She encouraged the participants to continue leveraging their networks and platforms to contribute to developing a strong seed sector and a sustainable food system.

The video recording of the session can be accessed here

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