The Seed Centre at RICA is designed to improve farmer resilience and farm productivity

BUGESERA, Rwanda, October 06, 2023 – One Acre Fund, in partnership with the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA), with funding from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, is pleased to launch construction of the Seed Centre at RICA, to be housed on the RICA campus in Bugesera District.

The Seed Centre will partner with seed companies, providing them with the services they need to accelerate their growth and bring more high-quality, improved seed to over one million Rwandan farmers in the next five years. The Centre will contribute to the Government of Rwanda’s policy to promote a strong domestic seed sector.

Seed companies are crucial actors in efforts to reach food security through increased farm productivity. In Rwanda and the region, seed companies need to be able to provide different varieties of high-quality seed to farmers. Inspired by the country’s great success in domesticating the hybrid maize seed market, the Seed Centre aims to continue to support this growth across other crops in the sector. As an example, locally, Rwanda only meets around 5% of certified potato seed demand, a key target crop of the Seed Centre and the Government of Rwanda.

The Seed Centre is comprised of three target ventures, which together will support the seed sector to achieve the following over the next five years:

● Potato Seed Venture – to support the production of 10,000T of disease-free potato seed to reach the market
● Multigrain Seed Processing – to enable local seed companies to professionally process 4,000T of seed
● Seed Innovation Centre – to train the next generation of 60+ seed professionals and support faster releases of varieties to market by private seed companies

The Seed Centre will support seed companies, in partnership with Rwandan farmers, to develop their own varieties of crops like hybrid maize, to better serve farmers’ needs.

High-quality seed is an essential input for smallholder farmers to make their farms more productive. The Seed Centre at RICA will target big challenges faced by Rwandan seed companies such as lack of technical expertise and access to high-cost infrastructure in order to promote innovation in the seed sector for the benefit of farmers and food security at large.

“Seed is a crucial step for every farmer’s season-long journey, serving as a non-negotiable element in guaranteeing food security. A country such as Rwanda, with visionary leadership, robust government institutions, and effective regulatory bodies, creates an ideal investment environment for high-tech agricultural products such as seeds, which require a high level of regulation and standardization,” said Dr. Joseph Moughan, Founding Director of the Seed Centre at RICA during the groundbreaking event.

The Seed Centre of Excellence will offer Rwandan seed companies five business-to-business services, which they can customize to solve their specific business challenges. The services include variety selection and parent seed for certified seed production, private field inspection and quality testing, professional certifications, processing and storage, and seed marketing and sales.

“The work of the Seed Centre is essential to maximizing the productivity benefits for farmers who also adopt improved farming practices like conservation agriculture, which is why we are funding this work, aligning it with our investment at RICA, and ensuring it meets the agricultural priorities set by the government of Rwanda,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

“The Seed Centre will offer certificate courses for recent graduates and seed company staff on a part-time or full-time basis. The courses will focus on all aspects of the seed industry, from breeding and variety selection, maintenance, and processing to quality control which is complementary to what we provide on our campus,” said Dr. Ron Rosati, Vice Chancellor of Administration and Operations at RICA.

“The Seed Centre will be a great incubation hub to support Rwandan seed companies such as mine to get access to quality varieties and parent seed, processing and testing facilities as well as market and brand development/support. This will make room for Rwandan seed companies to succeed. We are optimistic and we look forward to when it will start its operations,” said John Muvara, RISCO’s Managing Director, in affirmation of the expected benefits of the Seed Centre to seed companies during the groundbreaking event on the RICA campus in Bugesera.