Small Seeds Yield Great Solutions
Did you know that it is estimated that nearly a billion people suffer from food insecurity around the world? In sub-Saharan Africa alone, it is estimated that nearly a quarter of a billion people are starving and that if nothing is done to deal with this problem soon, it will have catastrophic consequences.
It is not just a lack of access to food that creates this kind of problem, but also access to really good food with high nutritional value as well as inadequate food production. Cereals and grains are the basis for most of the continent’s staple diet and essential or primary crops include millet, maize, rice, sorghum and wheat. Legumes like cowpea, groundnut and soybean and roots and tubers are vitally important food crops and include cassava, yam and cocoyam.
If inadequate production, the world goes hungry?
Getting to the ROOT of the problem
Farmers understand that to cope with the looming food insecurity crisis, more investment needs to be made into the seeds they plant and how they can improve them to yield better quality produce – and more of it!
There are three main types of seeds:
Open pollinated – those produced from natural, random pollination. Traditionally, farmers saved the best of these seeds for planting from year to year.
Hybrid – result from cross-breeding two parent plants that have desirable traits. The resulting plants realize their potential in the first season, but lose effectiveness in subsequent generations so farmers must buy new seeds each year.
Genetically modified – are created when one or two genes with the desired traits from any living organism are transferred directly into the plant’s genome.
Giving African farmers access to better seeds is one of the core aims of many NGO’s and agents who are helping to deal with growing food insecurity.
However, what about smallholder farmers who lack finance?
In some countries, governments are providing grants and education. In Nigeria for example, a law now provides for private company “branding” of seed like that which is allowed in select U.S. states. Nigeria’s approach to allow “branded” seed, however, is unique to the West African region.
In Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Seed Enterprise (ESE) is responsible for producing and distributing seeds. Today, there are newer parastatal organizations placing the burden on ESE to carry out its direct mission of producing and distributing seed. In addition, several local seed companies are also active and at least one multinational company has a presence. Sadly, it estimated that roughly only 10 percent of the country’s requirements are being met.
In countries like Ghana, Liberia and Tanzania, more progress has been made to expose farmers to new technologies and better seed species although many are still reliant on older varieties. To meet the increased demand for maize, farmers need to have the capacity to produce the foundation seed necessary to meet demand for hybrid maize production. This is challenging.
As a result, some newer varieties have not been widely commercialized and made available to farmers. Farmers have continued to rely on older hybrid varieties or open-pollinated varieties.
German chemistry giant, BASF, has entered the arena with a solution that can help unlock the potential and genetic power of each seed. This will contribute substantially to the seed and resulting plant.
BASF have developed treatments and seed enhancements that can be added to each individual seed. These treatments help:
- to improve emergence under challenging conditions
- provide a broad spectrum of control against insects and soil-and seed-borne diseases
- BASF’s patented AgCelence® treatment helps to enhance plant health effects
This also protects the seed for up to 45 days and improves the ability to absorb nutrients and sprout roots. This improved performance helps farmers meet the challenges of sustainable crops.
BASF’s seed technology helps young seeds survive longer, guards against bacterial infections and apart from more sustainable output, farmers are also guaranteed peace of mind!
Who would have thought that by paying attention to each tiny seedling, the result would be one that could help stave off catastrophic consequences for the African continent?
This is proof enough that from small seedlings, great things bloom.