Higher quality seeds can help beat Africa’s ‘hunger pandemic’
Vaccination efforts across the globe encourage hope of an imminent end to the COVID-19 health crisis. But the food security crisis that the pandemic has deepened cannot be alleviated quickly and will require lasting solutions.
Well-adapted and nutrient-dense crops like millet, sorghum, groundnut, chickpea, pigeonpea, cowpea and common bean, collectively called dryland cereals and legumes, are like a vaccine of sorts for hunger and under-nutrition. This is because, over time, improved varieties of crops will be able to render farming resilient to climate stresses, help improve nutritional outcomes and improve soil health. In the short run, they boost yields, ensure food sufficiency in farm households and increase earnings.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, seed systems, which determine seed access in a country or a region, were beset with challenges. In a recently published paper we identify what the bottlenecks are and what can be done about them.