USAID's West African Seed Program aims to help boost region's crop yields
Historically, West Africa's seed-production system has been insufficient to satisfy the region's needs. WASP was launched in partnership with the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) in an effort to boost the production of quality seeds.
In 2012, the region's quality seed production was 12 percent. By 2017, WASP officials hope to increase that to 25 percent. To achieve this, WASP officials are connecting public and private sectors connected with seed production, as well as increasing communication between regional seed networks and national seed associations. Program coordinators have developed networks of plant breeders, as well as quality-control and certification personnel.
The program also assists West African farmers by getting them access to higher-quality seeds, which will be more resistant to insects and drought, which should increase yields. WASP has established the Alliance for Seed Industry in West Africa (ASIWA) to this end.
For the 2012-17 period, USAID has pledged $9 million for the program, which benefits the West African nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. The program also assists with seed policy and regulations in Mauritania, Chad, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo.