Check out this recently published article in the Associate Press which highlights the need for good quality seeds and better extension services for farmers worldwide. According to experts, only 20 percent of farmers across Africa have access to state-of-the-art seeds. But organizations, like the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, are working to improve farmers’ access to important agricultural inputs.
Peter Waziweyi is bouncing around the lush countryside of Mozambique in his 30-year-old truck, visiting his customers’ maize fields and relishing the sight of their rich, ripening crops.
Farmers in developing countries need better access to seeds and other extension services. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)
In an East African country that tried and failed to run its economy on Marxist lines, it is now the turn of small-time businessmen like Waziweyi to step forward. Waziweyi is a seed salesman and part of a chain linking scientists and farmers that experts hope will help Mozambique and other African countries solve their chronic food crises.
Waziweyi has gone from aid worker to entrepreneur, producing high-yield, drought-resistant hybrid seeds and selling them through the company he and his wife founded last year, called “Nzara Yapera” — “an end to hunger.”
“That’s what we call positive results with immediate impact,” he says after meeting a farmer who has seen what hybrid maize seeds can do and wants to buy them.
Better seeds fueled the “green revolution” of higher, more reliable crop yields that transformed farming in many parts of the world.
But Africa has come late to the green revolution, and Mozambique later than most. The former Portuguese colony is almost a laboratory specimen of the continent’s post-independence woes: 17 years of civil war, spells of flood and drought, one-party rule tainted by corruption and antidemocratic tendencies. Like several African countries last year, it suffered riots over high food prices.
Gradually, the government is relinquishing control of the economy. A state-owned seed giant was broken up recently into an array of private producers, and Antonio Limbau, Mozambique’s deputy agriculture minister, said he wants the profit motive to spread.
Across Africa, experts say, only 20 percent of farmers are using state-of-the art seeds. In Mozambique, Limbau said, it is just 5 percent.
While genetically modified seeds raise objections here just as they do in some Western societies, hybrid seeds and other modern techniques go down well in Africa. Success stories cited by researchers include cocoa in Ghana, cotton and coffee in Uganda, flowers in East Africa and beans in Rwanda.
But the World Watch Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, cautions that better seeds are not enough: Farmers need ways to keep their soil nourished, reliable customers and roads to bring their produce to market.