Strengthening Chadian agriculture through high-quality seeds
Title: Programme for the Operationalisation of the Seed Sector in Chad
Commissioned by: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Production, Irrigation and Agricultural Equipment
Overall term: 2014 to 2022
Farming is the main source of income in Chad, making up almost a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Around 80 per cent of the labour force is employed in agricultural production, more than half of them female. This makes agriculture one of the key areas for national economic development. However, the full potential of agriculture is not being exploited in Chad. Only six per cent of the potential cultivation area is being used. There are many reasons for this. In addition to uncontrollable climatic fluctuations, soil depletion, plant pests and inadequate water management, the extremely limited access to agricultural resources such as seeds is a core problem. High-quality seeds are one of the most important factors for intensifying agricultural production. They can simultaneously improve the population’s self-sufficiency and generate income. However, the seed industry in Chad is poorly organised and structured, and can scarcely meet demand. The regeneration of seeds from one year to the next and the refinement methods that farmers traditionally use in their fields impair seed quality and undermine production.
Agricultural production has increased thanks to certified seeds. Family farms have higher and more secure incomes.
This project has been active in Chad for many years. The objective is to improve the conditions for the seed industry through various activities. Results achieved in the first years should therefore be continued in order to generate long-term positive development. The project primarily works in provinces in the Sahelian zone (Batha and Wadi Fira) and the Sudan zone (Eastern Logon, Mandul and Middle Shari) The aim is to concentrate on setting up production and supply chains for seed cultures that will ensure food security for the population. These include maize, sorghum, millet and peanuts.
To achieve this, the project is working together with representatives of several interest groups, in other words equally with governmental structures, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It promotes partnerships between these interest groups. Sound legal bases aim to improve the framework for state and private sector institutions when it comes to regulating the seed industry. The project also promotes self-responsibility by building and strengthening the skills of the interest groups involved. The plan is to jointly develop strategies for the independent provision of environmentally friendly goods and services. In this context, the project ensures that gender equality aspects are taken into account and promoted in all project phases.
A final focus is on the vocational training of young people. The aim here is to prepare them for work in the various professions in the seed industry.
- Agricultural production has already increased substantially in the first project phase. This is particularly true for peanut production, which increase by around eight per cent, and sorghum production, which rose by approximately seven per cent.
- A slight improvement in the access to quality seeds has been recorded thanks to the availability of certified seeds in the production regions.
- More households are familiar with the issue of high-quality seeds and now use them for their production. This has been made possible through targeted promotion of home growing.
- Seed producers have come together as an interest group. For instance, associations have emerged in the provinces that are in turn affiliated with a national network that now has 263 member associations. The development of commercial seed production and consolidation of sales relationships have been promoted thanks to lively discussion in these dialogue forums.
- The project has made a major contribution to the coordination, regulation and formulation of national seed policies. A law regarding seeds and seedlings of plant origin provides a foundation for the development of agriculture, food security and, in particular, seeds. This law was supplemented with four accompanying documents that are available to interest groups from the industry. These are the national strategy paper for seeds, an action plan, the national catalogue of varieties and types of plant origin and the guidelines for seed control. Based on these accompanying documents, the Ministry of Agriculture has redefined the political, institutional and regulatory framework of the Chad seed system.
- Important institutions in the seed industry have been promoted. For example, the Chadian Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (ITRAD) now has a pump system, which allows it to continue producing in the off-season and increase genetic diversity.