SACAU participated in the Access to Seeds Index Expert Review Committee for Eastern and Southern Africa which met in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 12th October 2017. The Index, which is published by the Access to Seeds Foundation, evaluates and compares seed companies according to their efforts to improve access to quality seeds of improved varieties for smallholder farmers.
The Committee evaluated the first Index which was published in February 2016 and reviewed the draft methodology for the second Index which will be published at the end of 2018 or early 2019. Amongst others, the Committee considered the companies list which was updated through a landscaping study for Eastern and Southern Africa whose outcomes will inform the methodology and the scope, type of information needed from companies, indicators and other regional issues and challenges to address.
Data collection for the index itself will be done through questionnaires answered by companies themselves. On this, it was observed that companies were initially very sceptical to the Index but are now open to participating. This is a positive development since the amount of information available on companies affects their ranking.Other matters raised/proposed for inclusion in questionnaires were around the need to establish membership of companies to seed associations, more information on varieties offered, quality aspects of the seed varieties, promotion activities and affordability.
Expert Review Committees play a key role in validating the methodology and inputs from regional committees that are taken to the global Committee. Thus, these are extremely useful for providing advisory input to the development of the Index. Outcomes of this meeting will thus also be integrated into the methodology together with inputs from the other regions.