Food insecurity in Chad is often in the headlines. In 2018, the World Hunger Index again listed the situation in Chad as 'alarming'. The majority of Chadians make a living from agriculture and produce from their own fields. There is not enough to feed the whole country and food is often in short supply. Grain, the staple in Chadian diets, is central to food security. Low yields and poor grain result when farmers are unable to source high-quality seed to grow this vital commodity. Distribution is not the only problem. It is also difficult to cultivate seed and develop varieties that are adapted to the climatic conditions.
Although Chad already has institutions which take charge of seed cultivation and reproduction, control and supervision, distribution, and training and framework conditions, there is not yet a clear allocation of responsibilities. The reach of these organisations is limited. To improve this situation, the SDC is providing support at four levels. The seed sector project:
- advises the authorities in drawing up regulatory frameworks for the sector
- helps strengthen the organisations in their roles and encourages them to fulfil their mandates proactively
- encourages private enterprise to produce seed locally
- enables farmers to safeguard their food security and produce better yields using high-quality seed
The aim is to increase food security and incomes by ensuring access for all to good-quality seed suited to the local conditions. By spring 2018, using the right seed for the local climate had already increased grain production by 20%.
How it is done
Project managers oversee the objectives at local and national level to ensure the establishment of a functioning, reliable production chain. At national level, Switzerland has helped the Ministry of Agriculture to adjust the legal framework to include specific regulations on seed production and distribution. These framework conditions were officially adopted in 2016. The SDC is also helping the Chadian Institute of Agricultural Research for Development to cultivate new seed varieties adapted to the local conditions. Another project aim is to find ways to make quality assurance more efficient.
The Swiss School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GiZ) are implementing the project in four regions. In these regions, the local population (two million people) already has access to the improved seed. The rest of the country is benefiting from the changes at the national level.
Supporting those most in need
Especially vulnerable groups are another focus of the project. Women in particular have opportunities to get involved in the new sector. In southern Chad, various groups of women are already producing and selling the improved seed. The seed is a source of income and allows them to send their children to school.
The project also includes humanitarian aid. Internally displaced persons in Chad and refugees from central Africa are to receive the improved seed. This ensures that those most in need benefit from the project and can build a future for themselves with the high-quality seed.