Sustainable adoption of QPM requires a system of assured and timely delivery of quality seed of preferred varieties to farmers at competitive prices. To ensure this supply, the project will contribute to the efforts of the donor community to overcome bottlenecks in the maize seed value chain.
NuME is helping to jump-start QPM adoption by ensuring sufficient QPM seed supply through:
(i) subsidized and coordinated production of all seed categories (breeder’s, pre-basic, basic and certified) along the value chain;
(ii) testing and demonstrating an agro-vet stockist distribution scheme for more efficient seed distribution; and,
(iii) providing seed business management as well as production training to emerging seed producers see example.
To ensure continued production of high quality QPM seed, a system supported by a quality control laboratory will be developed for sampling and monitoring QPM seed quality as well as testing the quality of QPM grain destined for commercial use.
The current system of maize seed production and distribution in Ethiopia relies heavily on state-owned enterprises and farmer cooperative unions acting through, and to some extent coordinated by, the federal Ministry of Agriculture and regional bureaus of agriculture. Although there has been a proliferation of seed companies as well as a relaxation of rules governing production of foundation seed in recent years, seed production continues to be largely centrally controlled and varietal development almost exclusively in the hands of public sector (EIAR) breeding programs. Moreover, seed distribution is almost entirely through farmer cooperatives which channel their requirements through the Ministries to seed companies. This system frequently results in disconnects between farmers’ ultimate varietal preferences (which may change, due to changing weather circumstances, between the time the cooperative consolidates farmers’ needs and the advent of the season for which the order was placed) and the availability of seed of the preferred varieties, resulting in surplus seed of some varieties and insufficient quantities of others. Competition in terms of superior products (varieties), services (timely delivery, agronomic advice), and choice (appropriate varieties available for current conditions) would help to resolve many of the issues that farmers currently face (such as non-availability of seed of the desired variety when it is needed) at the onset of the rains. The current situation of apparent undersupply and high demand suggests farmers are willing to pay more for high quality improved seed.
Due to the recessive nature of the o2 gene, outcrossing of QPM varieties with non-QPM varieties planted nearby could result in loss of the protein quality of either QPM seed or grain. Standard isolation procedures required for seed multiplication will forestall such dangers in seed production. However, QPM grain is not likely to be produced under such strict regulation; it may also be mixed with conventional maize grain either inadvertently or by unscrupulous traders. To circumvent either eventuality, a formal QPM seed and grain monitoring system will be put in place using laboratory facilities established by the QPMD Project. Protocols and procedures will be developed for seed and grain sampling, analysis and reporting for QPM certification. Regulatory definitions and standards for QPM seed and grain for commercial use will be established in collaboration with the MoA. A system will be developed to enable EIAR to offer analytical services to seed producers and commercial grain millers at full cost recovery using the EIAR QPM lab, which will be further upgraded to handle large numbers of samples. This will
(i) ensure that the production of high quality seed meets recognized standards for QPM, and
(ii) verify protein quality of grain produced for the food/feed industry.