Development of Agriculture through Maize and Sorghum Hybrids (DASH II), 2014-2017
Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
To enable Malian smallholder farmers move towards a more market-oriented agriculture by increasing the productivity of maize and sorghum through the dissemination of promising hybrids. Advantages of hybrids vis-à-vis improved open-pollinated varieties include: 1) better vegetative growth and seedling vigor; 2) better tolerance to foliar diseases; 3) higher grain yield; and 4) higher stover yield (animal feed). In Mali, there was a gain in grain yield of about 60% compared to improved open pollinated varieties.
What we do
This project is a continuation of the 2011-2014 “Development of Agriculture through Sorghum Hybrids” DASH project. DASH II is conducting hybrid seed maize and sorghum demonstration plots, hybrid seed production at farm level and capacity building of producers and technicians. The project is implemented in Kati (Koulikoro region) and Bougouni (Sikasso region). Key activities include:
- Introduction of maize and sorghum hybrid through tests and demonstrations
- On-farm production of certified maize and sorghum hybrid seed
- Strengthening the technical and organizational capacities of extension agents, farmers and farmers' organizations
- Facilitating the information exchange of key maize and sorghum value chain actors (producers, processors, traders, manufacturers and consumers).
Since the start of the first phase in 2011/12, 156 tons of hybrid seed and 53 tons of OPV seed have been produced by farmers. Direct seed sales through local seed companies has generated around 177,500 euro. During DASH II close to 1,000 on-farm demonstrations were organized to promote these hybrids benefitting over 20,000 smallholder farmers. Revenues generated through the adoption of hybrids is likely to be in the order of several millions of euro.
The following lessons have been learned on the management of seed production by smallholders farmers :
- A value chain approach should be applied in the design and implementation of activities, involving all relevant stakeholders in the process (seed producers, agro-dealers, extension, research)
- Capacity building of seed producers, producer groups and cooperatives is essential to ensure the quality of seed production and to acquire access to new markets
- Access to credit to finance seed production and marketing activities.
- To sustain on-farm seed production of it is essential that (farmer) seed producers and producers of the hybrid parents (research) are bound by a formal contract. Thus, hybrid parents are produced, based on the actual needs of farmer-applicants
- Similarly, seed producers must be bound by a formal contract with seed companies
- Average on-farm yield of hybrid sorghum seed (F1) produced by farmers is about 800 kg/ha
- An awareness campaign is required for users including farmers, consumers and other stakeholders to learn to distinguish between OPV, hybrid, and GMO seed.
- In order to avoid mixing seed of hybrids and OPV, the following measures should be taken:
a) The cooperative selects farmers who produce hybrids and OPV seed. Hybrids and OPV are produced by different farmers
b) Two samples are taken to analyze hybrid seed: (1) a first batch of 2 kg for testing viability (germination rate) and other characteristics; and (2) a second batch of 500 g for the breeder to test seed homogeneity
c) The required isolation distances must be strictly adhered to in the field
d) Field level controls are performed by the agency responsible for seed certification
e) Seeds are stored in different stores. Proper seed storage and packaging must be used to minimize risk of reduced seed viability
f) Bags should be labeled
- In view of monitoring difficulties and relatively high cost of demonstrations, EUCORD opted to reduce the size of the demonstrations from 400 to 500 m² per plot to 100 m². Demonstrations are installed along major roads to facilitate visits by various stakeholders and include 2 different hybrids and a popular local variety