PICOTEAM is a network-organisation with nodes in Africa, Latin America and Europe
  that supports efforts to bring about change and innovations for sustainable development.

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Our Experiences

Project Quality Seeds Production by Smallholder Farmers
Duration 06.2000 - 12.2008
Country / Region South Africa 
Five districts of Limpopo Province, namely Capricorn, Vhembe, Bohlabela, Mopani and Sekhukhune
Services delivered Community Based Seed Production was initiated through PEA facilitation processes aimed at addressing problems of smallholder farmers related to acquisition of good quality seeds. The problem with the past South African formal seed systems was that it was not able to meet the needs of smallholder farmers. For example, the maize seed was not adaptable to smallholder farmers’ situation and most of the varieties were not acceptable in the market. Limpopo Department of Agriculture (LDA) officers trained in the PEA process were able to assist farmers to implement the innovation process as illustrated by the follows steps:
  • Facilitation of a platform of stakeholders from national and international research organizations 
  • Awareness creation and deepening on the analysis of the indentified problem 
  • Selection of experimenters based on agreed criteria 
  • Site inspection selected for the trials 
  • Training of farmers 
  • Trial layout and establishment
  • Monitoring of the trials
  • Evaluation of the varieties 
  • Sharing of experiences 
  • Re-planning for the coming season 
  • Training of farmers for seed multiplication

The smallscale seed production innovation process exposed farmers to maize variety trials aimed at addressing specific environmental and socio-economic constraints that characterize smallholder agriculture in the communal areas. Farmers were engaged to maize variety evaluation trials which included local varieties and CIMMYT elite open pollinated varieties (OPVs). This resulted in seed multiplication of farmer preferred varieties.  The following is a summary of the achievements:

  • The project is addressing seed security which has a direct and positive impact on food security.
  • The seed production project has significant economic impacts because maize seeds are marketed after being treated, packaged and labelled according to certification requirements. This adds value to the whole maize seed production scheme. Currently beneficiaries of this project are making 800 USD per ton as compared to 80 – 150 USD they received in the past by selling maize grains. 
  • Farming community get access to good quality maize seeds from the beneficiaries of this project and they also get better yields. 
  • In 2001 two varieties of ZM 521 and Grace were released, then registered and listed in Table 8 of Plant Improvement Act, Act 53 of 1976. 
  • Farmers were then trained to produce seeds of these preferred maize varieties in order to guarantee local seed security and to make seed production an income opportunity.
  • To support farmers in processing their maize seeds, Madzivhandila College of Agriculture was registered with national Department of Agriculture (NDA) under Plant Improvement Act, Act 53 of 1976 as seed establishment in order to facilitate seed cleaning and packaging.
  • The project helped the targeted population to be self organized. In 2004 16 villages with 657 smallscale maize seed producers from Vhembe, Capricorn and Sekhukhune districts had organized themselves to form a seed grower association (SGA). 
  • The SGA now supports farmers in getting market access, seed processing and seed certification. The farmer organisation is also organizing basic seeds, registration of seed units, seed inspection, seed dressing and marketing.
  • In 2003, officers used the experiences from the maize seed production system to start similar trials on quality protein maize. This initiative enables the community members to access quality protein maize for people living with HIV/AIDS and vulnerable households.
Partners Centre for Wheat and Maize Improvement (CIMMYT),
Agricultural Research Council Grain Crop Institute (ARC – GCI),
Southern African Development Community,
German Technical Cooperation (GTZ),
Small Scale Seed Production (SADC/GTZ/SSSP),
South African National Seed Organisation (SANSOR),
Department of Agriculture (DoA),
Madzivhandila College of Agriculture, (SGA),
Yebo co-op, Eco – Link ,
Limpopo Department of Agriculture, BASED - GTZ,
University of Limpopo,
University of Venda,
Bayer + NTK,
Agriculture wholesalers
Funding Organisation GTZ, LDA, SADC/GTZ/SSSP and SANSOR
PICOTEAM members involved Joe Ramaru and J. J. Mkhari
Links / Publications http://www.cimmyt.org/english/docs/manual/seedProduction.pdf