Seed business incubation workshop sets new trend for EcoSIB incubatees

For two days at the airport view hotel in Accra, Ghana, the African Agribusiness Incubators Network has been holding a leaders’ workshop for incubatees in seed business until yesterday.

The incubatees are beneficiaries of the Entrepreneurship for Commercial Seed Incubation Business (EcoSIB) incubator that was officially launched on 1st July, 2016 to link seed businesses to the incubation ecosystem and make their business operations more sustainable.

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Above: EcoSIB Incubatees and opening panel members for day one of the workshop at Airport View Hotel on Wednesday. Dr Alex Ariho (far left) represented AAIN on the opening panel on Tuesday.

“Many of the seed producing companies that are included in these activities are supported by project partners to produce the seed. On the business and market side, we believe that incubation is the best means of making them more sustainable and making sure that the benefit does not end at the production stage and the project impact is multiplied. It is therefore joint effort and that is what incubation is about,” Dr Alex Ariho, CEO of the African Agribusiness Incubators Network.

To balance this kind of input to ECoSIB, a consortium was formed back in 2016 and included the Ghana Grains and Legumes Development Board (GLDB), Agri-Impact Consult, the Crop Research Institute of Ghana (CRI) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The overview of seed business incubation in Ghana was presented by Frederick Acquah the Manager for Business Research and Technology Commercialisation.

Revisiting the model, new opportunities

The opening panel was formed by Dr Alex Ariho the AAIN CEO, Dr Solomon Ansah the Director for Crop Services in the Ghanaian Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Ben Morrison from the 2,500 member Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), Moomen Saeed the President of the Association of Small Scale Industries in Ghana (ASSI) and Ben Kemetse the CEO of M&B Seeds Ghana.

The panellists explored agribusiness incubation models for seed business, seed policy frameworks, new technologies for Yam seed production and opportunities in seed branding and promotion, challenges to transportation of seed in Ghana respectively, all of which were captured in the technical report of the workshop.

Through the two days the incubatees also gave their perspective of service delivery.

“We very much appreciate the role of EcoSIB in closing a number of gaps in training and easing our relations with the seed inspectors, policy makers and research organisations. We believe even more can be done with increased collaboration from partners of AAIN as we have noted from this workshop,” Francis Kwadwo Asempah, seed producer from Ashanti region.

With increased insight about incubation across Africa, the incubatees made a joint request for attachment to AAIN’s new Small Scale Agribusiness Incubator Hub Concept.

Above: EcoSIB incubatees with day two panelists on Wednesday. The incubatees had benefited from a field visit to each one by a team from the AAIN secretariat in the second week of this month. 

Project support to EcoSIB

Project support came through the highly-effective Scaling Seed and Technology Partnership (SSTP) programme of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

One such beneficiary of the SSTP is Pee Farms that received support to produce 470MT of maize and 135MT of soybean seed to be distributed to over 45,000 farmers in the regions of Brong Ahafo and Ashanti in Ghana.

AGRA’s support for seed production in Africa can be traced back to the Program for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS) which among other outputs influenced an increase in seed production from 2,346 MT in 2007 to 57,391 MT in 2012.

Investment in seed production has been and remains a priority for AGRA across Africa today.

“A lack of two basic ingredients of farming, improved seeds and fertilizers, is a key reason yields on African farms are far below what farmers elsewhere in the world produce,” AGRA President Dr Agnes Kalibata in her speech at the UNCTAD Global Commodities Forum Keynote Session on the 15th of July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Policy and seed business in Ghana

In Ghana, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and parliament handle the formulation of policies and enforcement aimed at increasing farmers’ access to quality seed and curbing adulteration and circulation of fake inputs.

The financing is supplemented by private sector investors and banks like Capital Bank which was represented by  Nana Yaa Asare the Head, FMCGs & Commodities.

Dr Solomon Ansah from the Agriculture Ministry(pictured above) gave the incubatees a picture of the policy for regulation of the seed sub-sector in Ghana, including the National Seed Policy, the Plant and Fertiliser Act and the National Seed Plan.

At regional level, he took the incubatees through the contents of the ECOWAS Seed Regulations and guidelines and how these influence the level of dissemination of new and improved varieties of seed in the member countries.