Concept note – Webinar by ICRISAT and partners

Topic: What Early Generation Seed Business Models in the era of COVID-19: harvesting best practices

in sub-Saharan Africa


While the science of discovery has made significant breakthroughs in developing new varieties and agronomic practices, few of these technologies have made their way to smallholder farmers in Sub- Saharan Africa. The science of delivery has still a long way to go. A large proportion of farmers is using poor quality seed of old sub-optimally adapted varieties. The relatively low adoption rates of improved varieties of crops other than hybrid maize and hybrid vegetables, have been attributed to various factors including limited awareness of new varieties, mismatch between demand and supply, weak institutional and policy environments but also highly variable agro-ecologies. Relatively low adoption rates of improved varieties of these crops compared to hybrid maize can be partially attributed to limited supply of early generation (EGS), i.e., breeder and foundation seeds. A major difference with hybrid maize is that the economic drivers for high quality grain legumes and dryland cereals (GLDC) seed production and distribution are much weaker, which also makes that EGS production is poorly viable economically. In this virtual event, relevant experiences will be shared on various topics related to EGS and best practices will be harvested through a call for paper.

Webinar objective: (i) Harvest best early generation seed (EGS) business models to sustain quality seed production and supply using expert knowledge; (ii) Explore best business models fit for recovery from COVID-19

Expected outputs:

  • –  Effective EGS business models discussed
  • –  Call for EGS paper launchedStructure/content: 2 Presentations and 1 Panel discussion
  • –  First presentation by an Expert giving an overview of EGS status in sub-Saharan Africa,challenges and opportunities)
  • –  Second presentation on preliminary results of work by ICRISAT and partners through ISSD-Africa project and other projects on EGS business models
  • –  Panel composed of 6 experts from different stakeholdersSpeakers:
    – First presentation by Ms. Aline O’Connor, Director, Agri Experience, Ltd, Kenya (15min)
    – Second presentation by Ms. Hellen Opie Second, Speaker, Scientist, Scientist, National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute, Uganda: (15min)Panelist: Six panelists (Donor organization, NARS, regional Development organization e.g. CORAF/WECARD, TASAI person)
  1. Representative of private Seed companies: Mr. Amos Rutherford, Legacy Crop Improvement Centre (LCIC), Ghana
  2. Representative of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS): Dr David Okello Kalule, Senior Scientist, National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute, Uganda
  3. Representative Regional NGO: Dr Ousmane Ndoye, CORAF/WECARD, Senegal
  4. Representative of international Seed systems NGO: Dr. Michael Waithaka, The African SeedAccess Index (TASAI), Kenya
  5. Representatives of major seed systems donors: Mr. Mark Huisenga (USAID), USA & DrJeffrey Ehlers, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), USA

Time per panelist is 8 min

Topics for panel discussion

Topic 1: EGS management systems in different countries (Panelists 1, 2, 3)
Topic 2: Customer satisfaction of EGS supply systems (Panelists 1, 2, 3)
Topic 3: Metric for assessing EGS business model performance/sustainability (Panelists 4, 5)

Date: 15 September 2020 Duration: 2H30’
Start time: 1400HRS GMT

Call for papers: Call for papers to share experiences on Early Generation Seed (EGS) business models. The call is intended to public, private and development organizations active who have EGS experiences to share. Research institutes (National, regional, international), seed companies (private and public), NGOs, Ministry of agriculture and any other development organizations are encouraged to share their unique experiences. All contributions will be compiled, edited and published as book with each contribution representing a book chapter. Each authored contribution will take a typical article shape and should include : a Title, the List of co-authors, the Affiliations, an Abstract (both English and French version), an Introduction (describing the context), the Methodology (presenting the process, the way the EGS business model was implemented, and key activities), the Results and Analysis (showing the key outputs of the EGS business models, what went well and what did not, key challenges), the Discussion (Reflection on the process and comparison with other cases), Conclusion (short synthesis of what made the initiative successful), References (1-3 references), Acknowledgments (if any). The contribution should be short but not more than 8 pages maximum, Time New Roman, single spaced, size 12. Your contribution should be send to and but also copied (CC) to and Deadline: 20th November 2020.

Platform: Zoom
Moderator: Dr. Christopher O. Ojiewo

Biodata of speaker and Panelists
First Presenter: Ms. 
Aline O’Connor, Director, Agri Experience, Ltd

Aline is the founder and Director of Agri Experience, Limited., a Nairobi-based consulting firm focused on developing strong seed systems in Africa. She has close to 30 years of experience in the crop seed sector in both the US and, for the last 12 years, here in Africa. Prior to her work in Africa, Aline was a co-founder and the CEO of Channel Bio Corp., a large US-based company selling seed for maize, soya, sorghum, alfalfa and wheat. When she stepped down to begin her work in Africa, under her leadership Channel had grown to become one of the largest crop seed companies in the US. Her work in Africa has taken her to more than 15 countries. She authored The African Seed Company Toolbox, which was underwritten by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is available in both French and English. Aline collaborated with AGRA for five years to train seed entrepreneurs across the continent, and continues her seed system work today with her team at Agri Experience in the fields of seed regulation, marketing, policy, quality control, training, and more. Aline has taught more than 400 students about seed enterprise management at universities in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. Across her 30 years career in the seed sector, Aline is most proud of her work to empower farmers to speak up when they do not get good seed. The farmer-focused SMS system, Mulika Mbegu Mbovu or “Stop Bad Seed”, has had a major positive impact in Kenya on reducing the sales of fake and low quality seed. All farmers deserve good seed – and it starts with the Early Generation Seed!

Second Presenter: Ms. Hellen Opie

Hellen is Socio-economist with the National Agricultural Research Organization in Uganda.
She holds a MSc degree in Development Economics from Wageningen University. She is a Gender Fellow under the BMGF funded Gender- responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project where she has done work in gender dynamics in Cereals breeding and seed systems as well as the CGIAR Gender platform works on non-hybrid grain legumes and Cereals seed systems. She is currently doing work on Business models for Early Generation Seeds.

First panelist: Mr. Amos Rutherford Azinu

Amos Rutherford Azinu is the CEO of the Legacy Crop Improvement Centre (LCIC) in headquartered Koforidua, Ghana specializing in production and marketing of foundation seeds of hybrid maize, soybean and cowpea. LCIC is currently the only private company in Ghana involved in hybrid foundation seed production and marketing. Amos’ experience in maize breeding dates back to September 2009. Mr. Azinu distinguished himself as a dedicated, hardworking person and was instrumental in the development of three hybrid maize varieties that have been released 2017 by the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana for commercialization. From February to November 2016, Amos served as a Consultant on early generation seeds (EGS) study in Ghana on a USAID project.

Second panelist: Dr. Kalule Okello David

USA. Dr Okello is a Gender– responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) Fellow and a certified Gender Trainer. To date he has supervised to completion 12 Masters and 1PhD students. Currently, he is handling 5 Masters and 2PhD students (5 of them are females). Dr Okello has published 4 Manuals, 6 book chapters and over 40 papers in referred journals. He successfully managed/or managing projects (National, continental and global in scope) from array of development partners including European Union, Rockefeller Foundation, IFAD, BMGF, USAID, African Union. Dr. Kalule Okello David is a Plant Breeder- Geneticists with over 15 years of applied Plant Breeding and Genetics with Uganda National Agricultural Research Organization. He holds a BSc in Agriculture, an MSc in Crop Science, and a PhD in Crop Science in Agriculture all from Makerere University, Uganda. His research interests include Groundnut Varietal development, Seeds Systems, Conservation, Gender, and Climate Smart Agriculture. He has released and commercialized 12 groundnut varieties which are freely shared throughout Africa, Haiti and the

Third panelist: Dr. Ousmane NDOYE

Dr. Ousmane Ndoye is currently Project Coordinator with CORAF/WECARD. He holds a PhD degree in Plant breeding from Texas A&M University. Dr. Ndoye has worked with the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA) as a peanut breeder and as manager before joining CORAF/WECARD. During his time at ISRA, Dr. Ndoye has been Director of the National Center for Agronomic Research (CNRA) at Bambey and Director of the Regional Center for Drought Adaptation (CERAAS) at Thiès, Senegal. He and his team have released 12 peanut varieties in Senegal. Dr. Ndoye has a solid background in seed systems and in project development and management. He has extensive knowledge in agricultural research for development in West and Central Africa for having led the Crops Program at CORAF/WECARD for about 6 years.

Forth panelist: Dr. Michael Waithaka

Michael Waithaka is the Principal Investigator, The African Seed Access Index (TASAI) based in Nairobi Kenya. Prior, he managed policy reforms and advocacy at the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA). The mandate area was Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. This was in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and national governments. Before, he worked for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. He holds a Dr. of Agriculture degree from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Business from the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada and a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi.

Fifth panelist: Mr. Mark Huisenga

Mark Huisenga is an agricultural specialist with over 20 years of professional experience in grain, fertilizer and seed value chains in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. At USAID Mr. Huisenga is responsible for commercialization and scaling of technologies, as well as managing partnerships with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. Huisenga has led USAID’s approach to Early Generation Seed, from initial diagnostics of the situation, formulating an Agency-wide approach to the challenges, assessment of global best practices, and reorientation of programming. He was formerly a Director of Agriculture at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a private consultant, and business unit manager for Cargill Technical Services. In these roles he focused on due diligence for agricultural investments. He serves on several boards and advisory committees with the objective of agricultural development.

Sixth panelist: Dr Jeffrey Ehlers, Programme officer at the BMGF foundation

Moderator: Dr Christopher O. Ojiewo, ICRISAT, Project coordinator and theme leader Seed Systems


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