Strengthening local seed systems within the bean value chain: Experience of agricultural innovation platforms in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Access to good quality seed is the beginning of successful crop production as an enterprise. Unfortunately, this remains a challenge to the smallholder farmers in the eastern and central Africa, whose seed systems are still under-developed. The situation is even worse in conflict burdened parts of some countries like the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where socio-economic systems have been progressively disrupted. This paper presents the process and findings from a study which involved application of an Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) approach to the seed systems to improve the bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) value chain
in South and North Kivu provinces of the DRC. Seventy four stakeholders were involved, including farmers and farmer associations, local grain/seed traders, private and public extension agents, researchers, finance and credit cooperatives and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The study was conducted in four sites, namely Mudaka and Katana (South Kivu), Rugari and Kinyandonyi (Nord-Kivu). The findings revealed increase in access to seeds of marketable varieties between 2009 and 2012 from less than 10% to about 42%. In 2012 more than 5 tonnes of bean seed was produced and distributed through non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). About 56.3% of the farmers benefited through accessing one or more of the marketable improved bean varieties and skills to implement matching technologies. The price of bean per tonne at farm level increased by 120%, while seed purity increased from 70 to 95% over the same period. It is evident that innovation platforms provided a good forum for actors in the bean value chain to interact and improve seed system performance, thus resulting in increased smallholder farmers’ access to lucrative bean seed markets.
Key Words: Marketable varieties, NGOs, Phaseolus vulgaris