Going to seed
At the recent 2018 African Seed Trade Association Congress in Cairo, a WorldVeg team finds like-minded companies ready to expand seed choices and increase seed quality for Africa’s farmers.
Seed is the essential agricultural input—and the World Vegetable Center is committed to ensuring Africa’s farmers have access to seed of varieties that can tolerate heat, drought, and flooding, resist pests and diseases, and produce good yields of nutritious and tasty vegetables.
With that goal in mind, Deputy Director General – Research David Johnson, Regional Director for West and Central Africa Coastal and Humid Regions Victor Afari-Sefa, and Plant Breeder Mohamed Rakha attended the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) 2018 Congress in Cairo, Egypt from 27 February to 1 March 2018.
AFSTA has more than 100 member companies across the business size spectrum, from those with small-scale operations to large multinational seed producers. The congress proved to be an excellent source of information about the current status of seed systems in Africa. It also provided a wealth of opportunities for David, Victor and Mohamed to meet seed company representatives, engage in substantive discussions about breeding and distribution across the continent, and introduce the new African Vegetable Breeding Consortium (AVBC).
The AVBC—a platform for seed companies to learn about the latest developments in breeding research from the WorldVeg team of internationally renowned plant breeders—is similar to the already established Asia and Pacific Seed Association/WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium for Asia. The AVBC will offer seed company staff opportunities to scout field trials of improved breeding material to enhance their cultivar catalogs and to meet breeders, pathologists, entomologists, genebank managers and other WorldVeg researchers to strengthen their knowledge networks in Africa. A number of companies expressed interest in joining the AVBC. Initial agreements for the new consortium currently are under review by AFSTA and WorldVeg.
Mohamed gave a well-received presentation on “Vegetable improvement at WorldVeg from genetic resources to commercialization” to congress attendees. Representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) met the WorldVeg team to explore how vegetables could be integrated into their research and development strategies to benefit stakeholders. WorldVeg also held discussions with representatives of the Access to Seeds Index, International Seed Federation, African Agricultural Technology Foundation, the International Seed Testing Association, and numerous seed companies.
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