Stakeholders Brainstorm to Revitalize Liberia’s Seed Industry

The seed industry of Liberia is currently faced with numerous constraints, thereby greatly limiting the country’s ability to realize agricultural transformation.

Some of the challenges are poor seed quality control and certification, the lack of seed regulatory authority, low supply of breeders, foundation and certified seed, weak human and infrastructural capacity of the research institute and among others.

To ensure a road map for the country’s seed industry so as to overcome those challenges, stakeholders recently concluded a 2 day Seed Business Summit in Monrovia. 

The Seed Business Summit was organized by the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) in collaboration with the Central Agriculture Research Institute and the Ministry of Agriculture.

It brought together participants from Sierra Leone, Benin, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and participants from the public and private sector of Liberia.

The Summit sought to build on previous progress made by the Liberian government and its international partners in trying to revitalize the seed industry since the end of the civil war.

It elevated the voices of value chain actors impacted by the rice, cassava, maize, soybean, and aquaculture seed system to share their success stories from the global south on increasing the availability of climate-adaptive, improved, and disease-free seed to improve farmers' livelihoods. 

The Summit also provided the opportunity to share seed development experiences from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Tanzania, etc, and TAAT’s and the Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed  (BASICS-II) value proposition for scaling and replicability to other African countries where cassava, maize, soybean, and rice play significant roles in both income generation and food security. 

According to the organizers for countries that have a roadmap developed but not operationalized, the summit identified a gap(s) for support to be fully implemented.  

Additionally, the seed summit sought to support the operationalization of the existing seed system road map for Liberia, increase awareness on the role of quality seed in agricultural transformation and among other objectives.

Liberia has legislated the Seed Development and Certification Agency Act of 2019 which is important to bringing about the necessary changes for the seed industry. 

However, the Act is not yet operationalized, something which the participants highly highlighted during the Summit for consideration by the government.  

Speaking at the close of the Summit the Deputy Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Solomon C. Hedd-Williams said there is a need for the government to strengthen the seed industry for the development of the agricultural sector.

He said that Liberia was behind in the region in agriculture development, despite several strategies being put in place.

“We can't continue to import seeds for our farmers to grow. Some of the seeds lacked the genetic purity and were not pest free. And so, a development of a road map for the seed industry is the way forward,” he said.

Hadd-Williams said that the Summit was necessary to help the country to see reasons to attract funding for the development of the seed industry.

He used the occasion to call on the national government to make sure that the Liberia Seed Development and Certification Agency Act of 2019 is operationalized.

Dr. Oluwatoyin Adetunji, Value Chain Specialist and Country Engagement Officer TAAT in Cotonou Benin, said that her team was in Liberia to help in the development of the road map for the seed industry.

She said that seed was the life of agriculture and the need to have an established seed industry cannot be overemphasized.

“You may have the fertilizer, inputs and suitable soil but if you don't have the right kind of seed you can't succeed. A country can’t continue to depend on the importation of seeds to assist its farmers. You will need a seed system in place to make sure your agricultural sector works well,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Seed Development Specialist for Liberia, Jobson Momo said the development of a road map for the seed industry of Liberia is something that is highly needed.

He said that to make the seed industry work it must be fully funded by the government.

According to him, without budgetary support for the seed sector farmers will always be lacking certified seeds.

Momo stated that before the seed Act is operationalized there is a need to have a technical working group that will be responsible to work with the partners to finalize the seed road map for the country.

According to him, the seed road map when finalized will guide the country on how to ensure access to quality certified seed for the sector.