The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) and other stakeholders are organizing a summit to draw a seed road map for the West African country. The consortium includes the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) project of IITA, AfDB-funded Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) of IITA, the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) in Nigeria and the Liberian government.

The two-day Seed Business Summit themed, “Building a Harmonized Roadmap for Seed Sector Transformation”, being organized in collaboration with the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture, will hold on March 25 and 26, 2024, in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. The forum, which aims to catalyze an agricultural revolution in that country, is targeted at the establishment of an economically sustainable seed system for priority crops like rice, cassava, maize, soybean, and aquaculture.

“Factors limiting growth in Liberia’s agricultural sector include the underdeveloped seed sector characterized by poor quality seeds, a weak seed regulatory framework, a struggling research system for variety maintenance, and a feeble private sector participation in the seed system”, says Dr. Godwin Atser, the County Director of SAA-Nigeria. “A solid seed system will surely change the country’s agricultural landscape. In this summit, SAA, BASICS-II, TAAT, and other partners will share the models currently strengthening the seed system in Nigeria.”

He adds “For example, there’ll be powerful technical sessions where the host and other countries will be exposed to how BASICS-II is building a sustainable cassava seed system in Nigeria, and Tanzania. We will also showcase how team we are scaling and replicating seed system development in cassava, maize, soybean, and rice in other African countries.”

The BASICS-II Project Manager, Prof Lateef Sanni, explained that the seed business summit would elevate the voices of value chain actors in the rice, cassava, maize, soybean, and aquaculture seed system by sharing success stories on increasing the availability of climate adaptive, improved, and disease-free seed to improve farmers’ livelihoods.

According to the project boss, “the summit will produce outcomes that will form the basis of future investment in Liberia’s seed system. It will produce recommendations that will help forge a roadmap that will feed into the country’s agricultural policies and plans: the Liberia Agriculture Sector Investment Plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, and other developmental initiatives in the country. Moreover, other sub-Saharan African countries can take a cue from it.”

The Liberian Minister of Agriculture, Dr J. Alex Nuetah, will chair the opening ceremony of the summit with the support of other Liberian dignitaries from the parliament and related ministries.

Apart from the IITA, Sasakawa Africa Association and the project leaders and partners of the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) and BASICS-II, several national stakeholders and International Development partners will participate at the summit. They include the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI); the Integrated Rice-Fish Farming System (IRFFS), and the World Bank. Others are the European Union’s Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA) initiative; Word Food Programme (WFP), International Monetary Fund (IMF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID); the EU, France, GIZ, Ireland, JICA and China, as well as agencies of the UN system. Farmers, seed producers, Universities of Agriculture, and the National Seed Board of Liberia will also attend.