The number of certified seed dealers in the agricultural supply chain has dropped from 2,500 in 2017 to just 725, which represents a drop of nearly 30 per cent.
The drop, according to a report by The African Seed Access Index-Uganda, has largely affected maize, sorghum and millet dealers, exposing the sector to substandard supplies.
However, the drop has been largely due to government inconsistencies that contradict the seed current model that is largely commercial.
“The overall the number of active breeders has declined ... for the four focus crops such as maize, beans, millet and sorghum,” the report says, noting that more declines have been witnessed, worsening supply of fake and substandard seeds.
Dr Ruth Ssebuliba, a research consultant with The African Seed Access Index-Uganda, said the seed sector needs organised support from both government and the private sector to develop improved varieties that meet market standards and consumer needs.
“There are a number of gaps in the seed sector policies and regulation. This is greatly affecting the sector,” she said, noting that seed companies are grappling with high costs of operations, occasioned by a number of demands along the value chain.
For instance, she said, on average it costs a company $5,000 and $24,000 to release seed variety for maize and sorghum, respectively.
Mr Narcis Tumushabe, the Ugadna Seed Trade Association chairman, said there is a lot needed in regard to transformation of agriculture, noting that: “If we want to shift from subsistence to modern farming without looking at the seed sector as an agent, the transformation will remain a mirage.”
Seed breeders or producing companies have become an integral part of the agricultural value chain as the need to keep standards to international levels becomes more apparent.