Five-year plan for driving grain legume and dryland cereals seed delivery systems through commodity value chains

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For those seeking to create a win-win for farmers, marketers and consumers of grain legumes and dryland cereals, this handy 15-pager has valuable information. Covering a five-year period starting 2020, this booklet aims to guide policy makers, development partners, implementing agencies, extension staff and stakeholders across the Grain Legume and Dryland Cereals seed value chain. The primary goal of this strategy is to deliver realized genetic gains to millions of smallholders in the drylands who continue to use poor quality seed of non-improved varieties with lower productivity.

Dryland cereals and legumes provide subsistence for more than half a billion people in the driest regions of the world. They are nutritionally rich; and are best fits for input-constrained, poor smallholder farmers in marginal zones as these crops are drought tolerant and resilient to harsh weather conditions. Though the focus of the strategy is primarily on sorghum, finger millet, pearl millet, groundnut, chickpea, pigeonpea, lentil, cowpea and soybean, it can also inspire improvement in delivery systems of rice, maize and wheat.

Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC) breeding programs have made substantial breakthroughs (see box) with hundreds of improved and high-yielding, pest- and drought-tolerant and nutrient-use-efficient varieties developed for different agroecological regions, yet it is observed that about 80% of smallholder farmers in developing countries rely on non-improved GLDC variety seed for planting. The book challenges this observation. It points to the fact that poorly organized seed systems and inefficient seed supply systems hinder large-scale use of improved variety of seeds. It underscores the main rationale for it, being that farmers use their own-saved seed, the bulkiness of seed of some GLDC crops (e.g., groundnut, chickpea), difficulty in storage and poor knowledge of GLDC’s comparative advantage (e.g., nutrients, production ecologies, etc.).

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