Building seed business hubs around women and youth in Tanzania

Women seed producers in the sorghum seed farm, Tanzania. Photo: A Mwalughelo, MHEG

Working with private seed companies, ICRISAT is helping integrate more women and youth into seed production enterprises in Tanzania. Recently we supported the efforts of the seed company Mbozi Highlands (MHEG), to enhance the production, promotion, marketing and adoption of new high-yielding varieties of groundnut and sorghum in the country. This was by designing and developing training manuals to train farmers, identifying and contracting 92 new seed producer groups (women and youth); facilitating inputs for 100 seed producer groups; and identifying suitable areas for establishing 300 variety demonstration plots.

Adopting our initiative – Seed Revolving Fund, Youth Engagement and Gender Inclusion (SRF-YEGI) – the company is focusing on increasing the number of youth and women participating in specific nodes along the seed value chains. Mr Aron Mwalughelo, Managing Director, MHEG, said that the company is commited to working closely with women and youth groups to develop and sustain seed business hubs for both crops – groundnut and sorghum – in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania.

For the first year of activity (2019-2020 cropping season), women and youth seed producer groups produced, cleaned and delivered seeds to MHEG as per agreed contract. Eight groups produced 1.2 t and 4.8 t certified seeds of groundnut and sorghum, respectively.

To meet the high demand (about 10 t) of sorghum seeds, the company worked with a women’s group to produce irrigated sorghum seeds on five acres at Momba District. MHEG also approached the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) for guidance in producing basic seeds of sorghum (Macia) and groundnut (Mnanje).

With financial and technical support from ICRISAT, MHEG worked with the Center for Behavior Change Communication (CBCC) to design and develop two training manuals – the Sorghum Production Manual and the Groundnut Production Manual – to train seed and grain farmers for greater adoption of new varities.

Through SRF-YEGI, MHEG is working on increasing sorghum and groundnut seed production and conducting variety popularization activities. The plan for 2020-2021 involves identifying and contracting 92 new seed producer groups (Women and Youth); facilitating inputs for 100 seed producer groups; and identifying suitable areas for establishing 300 variety demo plots.

ICRISAT is glad to partner with the company to create vibrant seed systems in Tanzania and for enhanced livelihood for women and youth. We envision a robust seed supply system that increases the quantity and quality seed of superior varieties; boosts the availability of early generation seed (EGS) by strengthening the technical, management and business capacities of key players; establishes a clear path and handover process from the research system to the private sector; enables private sector multipliers to seize opportunities to capitalize on the commercialization of these crops; and embraces diversity where women and youth are well served and included in seed delivery models.

ICRISAT is also committed to replicate the success of the seed revolving fund (SRF) model developed and successfully implemented in Malawi to address limited production and supply of EGS, with modifications where necessary. The intention is to involve public and private partners at each stage of the seed value chain, and ensure that each player is well rewarded.

For more on our work with women, click here:

For more on our work in Tanzania, click here:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three + 19 =

Follow us