Crops to End Hunger: Accelerating Seed Delivery through Sustainable Seed Systems
Commercial seed delivery for smallholder farmers in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa has been limited to few crops and varietal turnover has been slow. Publicly funded breeding needs to engage with seed systems to deliver greater genetic gain in farmers’ fields via varietal replacement. A White Paper, recently commissioned by funders of the Crops to End Hunger (CtEH) initiative in the context of the ongoing One CGIAR reform, identifies approaches and makes recommendations that will both diversify the range of publicly bred crop varieties available to smallholder farmers and increase varietal turnover through commercial channels.
An expert consultation identified 14 bottlenecks to commercial seed delivery. These can be broadly classified into policy and regulatory barriers hindering variety release, insufficient understanding of target markets, lack of technical and business capacity of small- and medium- seed enterprises, and the need to better define roles and responsibilities between One CGIAR, National Breeding Programs and commercial seed companies in a changing landscape.
The White Paper expands on recommendations for how One CGIAR may want to adjust its approaches and collaboration with National Breeding Programs and private sector entities to (i) be more successful in developing and deploying newly developed varieties, and (ii) support the evolution towards a more effective, sustainable local seed sector, with appropriate public and regulatory capacities and a vibrant entrepreneurial sector. The White Paper makes recommendations for how to streamline handover to commercialization and the steps needed.
Research Community of Practice Lead
USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
Dr. Nora Lapitan is the Lead for the Research Community of Practice in the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security at USAID. In this role, she oversees the bureau’s Feed the Future research portfolio. She also leads the Input Systems Division within the Center of Agriculture Led Growth, which supports the development of innovations and technologies from agriculture research and the creation of delivery pathways for those innovations.
Nora Lapitan was a Professor at Colorado State University, where she led a research program to understand the genetics of economically important traits in cereal crops. Prior to joining USAID, she served as Program Director at the National Science Foundation.
Nora Lapitan has received many awards for her contributions in research, including the 2020 USAID award for Science and Technology, Distinguished Scholar Award from the Agronomic Science Foundation, Plenary speaker for the Betty Klepper Endowed Lectureship at the 2020 Crop Science Society of America meeting. She is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Crop Science Society of America, and the American Society of Agronomy.
Global Potato Agri-Food System Program Director
International Potato Center
As of August 2019, Ian Barker leads an innovative portfolio of research and development projects designed to intensify, diversify and strengthen the resilience of agri-food systems with potato-related technologies. He is responsible for setting priorities that respond to changing country, regional and global demands and that contribute to the International Potato Center (CIP) and CGIAR long-term strategic objectives and goals.
With over 30 years of experience in agricultural R&D in both the public and private sector, Ian’s background includes serving as the Head of Agricultural Partnerships for The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) based in Switzerland.
Within the emerging OneCGIAR structure, Ian leads an initiative design team called SeEdQUAL with the aim of improving the delivery of genetic gains in farmers’ fields. He is also the convener of the Crops to End Hunger Seeds Delivery Group.
He holds a PhD from Exeter University and a BSc in plant sciences from Wye College, London University.
Richard, has spent his working career in Africa divided between agronomic research, technology exchange and scaling up.
His career started in Botswana doing farming systems research along the fringes of the Okavango Delta that led to a PhD in 1989. Later that year he moved to Malawi as a post-doc with the Malawi Maize and Agroforestry Commodity teams doing agronomic research on maize and agroforestry with a strong emphasis on soil fertility.
In 1996 he took up an appointment as a Technology Exchange Specialist with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to promote improved pigeonpea varieties in eastern and southern Africa. This was followed by a stint with the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
All three assignments have been concerned with ensuring that smallholder farmers gain access to products generated from research including superior varieties, mineral fertilizers, and the knowledge needed for effective farmer management. His last assignment, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by AGRA, was focused on scaling up of seeds, mineral fertilizers and complementary inputs in ways that were commercially sustainable, which included resolving policy constraints hindering effective scaling.
International Potato Center
Since 2014, Dr. Barbara H. Wells has served as the Director General of the International Potato Center (CIP), an organization with 48 years delivering innovative science-based solutions fostering sustainable development of root and tuber agri-food systems around the developing world.
She is an accomplished senior executive with extensive scientific and business experience in research, general management, strategic planning, regulatory processes, and the technical development and commercialization of products in agricultural and forestry markets throughout the world. Her agriculture and forestry expertise spans for more than 30 years.
Over the course of her career, Dr. Wells has worked at all levels: from working directly with farmers applying science to improve incomes and productivity, to senior management and holding several public and private sector board positions including serving on the CGIAR System Management Board and Chairing the Food and Agriculture Sector of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Prior to joining CIP, she served as Vice President of Global Strategy at Agrivida, Inc., a firm that develops enzyme solutions for animal nutrition and feedstocks for the production of biofuels and bio-products. At Agrivida Dr. Wells was responsible for planning and implementing the company’s global commercial development strategy and scientific collaboration activities.
From 2002 to 2012, she was President and Chief Executive Officer of ArborGen, Inc., a global forestry tree seedling, and tree breeding business. In this post, Dr. Wells led the transformation of the company from a biotechnology start-up to a fully operational business with per annum commercial sales of more than 250 million tree seedlings in the US, New Zealand and Australia. Prior to joining ArborGen, Dr. Wells was Vice President responsible for growth initiatives and investments in Latin America for Emergent Genetics, an agricultural private investment firm.
Dr. Wells previously spent 18 years at Monsanto as Co-Managing Director of Brazilian operations and in various leadership roles in field product development across the world for many crops including cotton, corn, soybeans, tree crops, and other products. As global leader of the Roundup Ready Soybean team, she played a key role in the commercialization of one of the world’s most successful agricultural innovations.
Dr. Wells has spent a large part of her life outside of the USA, growing up in Peru and Bolivia and spending much of her career in Brazil, Africa, India and China. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Her move to CIP was in keeping with her ambition to improve the livelihoods of the world's poorest farmers and drive forward CIP’s mission to improve food and nutrition security.
Dr. Wells received her Ph.D. in Agronomy from Oregon State University, and her M.S. degree in Plant Pathology/Nematology and B.S. degree with Honors in Horticulture from the University of Arizona.
Head of Seed Research and Systems Development
Dr. Jane Ininda is Head for Seed Research and Systems Development at AGRA and leads crop research, seed production, and seed certification and regulatory interventions. Her career in agricultural science and development in Africa spans 30+ years. She has led teams of professional crop breeders in Africa who have developed and released 685 resilient crop varieties; and supported the development of 100+ private seed companies in Africa. She has published 40 + research papers, written book chapters, blogs and many impact stories in media. Realizing the importance of forming strong alliances and sharing updated information and knowledge among agricultural scientists she founded key networks in crop breeding in Africa. She has also featured the effects of food shortage in the film Silent Killer-the unfinished Campaign against hunger. Jane holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding-Major, from Iowa State University, USA. She is a recipient of the C.R. Weber Award in recognition for outstanding achievement in graduate study in Crop Science at Iowa State University, USA.
Global Head of Seeds2B
The Syngenta Foundation for Sustain able Agriculture (SFSA)
Tony is the Global Head of Seeds2B for The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) based in Nairobi, Kenya. Seeds2B is SFSA’s seeds stream that helps farmers access quality, affordable seeds of improved varieties for the crops they need. Tony leads the strategy and long-term planning for Seeds2B in Africa and Asia, including exploring new institutional arrangements for scaling and developing new partnerships. He is also the Chief of Party for the USAID-funded Partnerships for Seed Technology Transfer in Africa (PASTTA) program.
Tony has a strong background in seeds and business development and previously worked at Bayer (formerly Monsanto) as the Sub Saharan Africa Regional Lead where he was responsible for developing and implementing Monsanto’s smallholder strategic growth plan for Sub-Sahara Africa for maize seed and crop protection businesses.
He has also worked in the horticultural value chain for FRIGOKEN in Kenya where he led the company’s global business development efforts. Additionally, he has worked extensively in the USA leading various initiatives in sustainable food packaging solutions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business from USIU-Africa and an MBA in Global Business Development from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Chicago, IL.