Africa crop scientists begin meeting in NairobiBy XINHUA | Tuesday, July 24 2012 at 18:28
African crop breeding experts have begun a week-long meeting in Nairobi discuss ways of tackling issue of better and more available seed for smallholder farmers, organizers said on Tuesday.
The meeting organised by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) brought together over 100 experts including World Food Prize laureate Gebesa Ejeta to seek ways of meeting smallholder farmers' need for high performing and high impact seed varieties.
Speaking at the event, AGRA's director of seed programme Joe Devries said AGRA programmes have so far supported the development of almost 400 new seed varieties and the commercialization of over 200.
"The challenge now is how to address the gap between the released varieties and the commercialized. If we can get this right we'll be able to make lasting impact on the lives of millions of smallholders in Africa," Devries told the meeting.
In May, Kenya and AGRA inked a deal for a 65 million US dollar small holder farmers financing program to provide a credit line to banks in Kenya under the Program for Rural Outreach of Financial Innovations and Technologies (PROFIT) which will be administered by AGRA.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Joseph Kinyua said then that the government will partner with AGRA to upscale an existing small holder financing program to the tune of $65 million that targets at least 150,000 beneficiaries.
The source of the funds is the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) but Kinyua added that the previous program was a risk sharing facility worth $5 million which leveraged total funding of $50 million and has so far benefited approximately 49,000 subsistence farmers.
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