Bayer and Fair Planet extend collaboration to improve access to high quality vegetable seeds in Ethiopia
Bayer has said it will continue its collaboration with the non-profit organization Fair Planet in the “Bridging the Seed Gap” project for another four years.
The project generates new opportunities for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia by improving access to high-quality vegetable seeds. The contract was signed today at the Vegetable Seeds Campus of Bayer in Nunhem, The Netherlands.
The “Bridging the Seed Gap” project is a unique and long-term technology transfer process established by Fair Planet in collaboration with leading global vegetable seed companies, national and international stakeholders such as governments, universities and farmers’ unions, and public and private donors. The project gives smallholder farmers facilitated access to seeds of high-quality vegetable varieties that are suitable for their own needs.
At the same time, it supplies training to the farmers on how to use these seeds with minimal changes to their traditional production practices. Smallholder farmers who are trained in this program and are using high-quality seeds will have the best chances of improving their incomes based on significantly better yields.
The collaboration between Bayer and Fair Planet started in 2015, and has supported the creation of three Vegetable Excellence Centers, where a range of vegetable seed varieties most suitable to Ethiopian conditions were identified and evaluated.
The plan for the 2017/2018 season is to proceed with four tomato hybrids, one pepper and one onion hybrid at the centers located at Butajira, Haramaya and Dire Dawa. The best-performing varieties will be cultivated by selected smallholder farmers who are given the chance to demonstrate the advantages to other farmers in their own villages and regions.
In addition to testing and cultivating high-quality vegetable varieties, the ambition of Fair Planet is to train a total of 1,000 model farmers in Ethiopia up to the year 2020. In 2016, almost 200 farmers were intensively trained at the Vegetable Excellence Centers and were supported by weekly extension visits to their farms, learning about fertilizing, plant protection and crop maintenance.
Fair Planet intends to train 200 model farmers additionally each year from 2017 to 2020. Moreover, through programs like ‘Train the Trainer’ for experts and development agents, Fair Planet hopes to eventually reach 50,000 fellow farmers. This extensive knowledge transfer and capacity building can have a long term impact on the agricultural development in Ethiopia.
“Our contribution to the work of Fair Planet enables us to create local access to our high-quality vegetable seed varieties and know-how over the next years,” explains Joachim Schneider, Head of Vegetable Seeds at Bayer. “We fully support the goals of Fair Planet and are proud to leverage local empowerment with our seeds and knowledge”.
Dr. Shoshan Haran, Founder and Operations Manager of Fair Planet: “We are extremely pleased that Bayer is continuing its support for our open aid platform, which is a unique phenomenon in the vegetable seed industry.” She adds: “The results of our joint program speak for themselves: trained farmers are using high-quality vegetable varieties and reach crop yields that are 5 times higher than Ethiopia’s average.
In just one production season they can double, and sometimes even triple, their annual income. Together with our partners we help smallholder farmers to exit the cycle of poverty and provide their children with a better future.”