The rise of the seed-producing cooperative in Western and Central Africa
This report (PDF), by Access to Seeds Index, evaluated over 50 seed-producing cooperatives across 20 countries in Western and Central Africa to explore whether farmer-led cooperatives can play a role delivering the new varieties developed by research institutes into the hands of farmers. It is often stated that only 20% of the seed used in sub-Saharan Africa is certified seed from the formal seed sector. The informal seed sector accounts for the other 80%, which includes cooperatives. However, seed-producing cooperatives are increasingly being formally recognized as producers of certified seed. At the same time, experts have raised concerns about the financial stability of the sector. Five insights on current performance of leading cooperatives shine a different light on the status and potential of seed cooperatives: 1) Cooperatives are part of the formal seed sector, they have governance structures in place and are partners in value chains of research agencies, seed companies and NGOs. 2) Cooperatives source their seeds from (inter)national research institutes, and thus play an important role in introducing and making improved varieties available. 3) Cooperatives are formally registered as certified seed producers, which includes quality controles. 4) Cooperatives work on complementary crops, by working with open pollinated varieties instead of hybrids. 5) Cooperatives distribute on a national scale through partnerships. To professionalize the sector, cooperatives across the region should learn from each other. Insight into the maturity of cooperatives could help determine their development process compared to their peers. A dashboard to measure the performance of cooperatives to evaluate their performance and show their development. This dashboard measuring the performance of cooperatives should include: (1) strength of the governance model; (2) strength of professional book-keeping operations; (3) revenue
model; (4) business strategy; and (5) marketing plan.