Tanzania | Cassava Seed Champion


In Tanzania, agriculture is the predominant sector of the economy and provides food and employment for about 80% of the country’s approximately 45 million people. Flooding during the rainy season followed by recent droughts has reduced harvests of items such as corn, wheat, fruits and vegetables in rural areas. Cassava, a crop able to grow in drought conditions, is a source of income and food security for millions of small farming families in marginalized areas.

Recently, large outbreaks of viral diseases have infested and destroyed cassava crops over large areas, and there is not currently any market-sustainable means of rapid, large-scale distribution of new varieties of improved, disease-resistant planting materials. For a country dependent on the agricultural industry to keep its economy alive and feed its people, farmers need a reliable way to acquire good seed and grow cassava.

MEDA’s ‘Mihogo Mbegu Bingwa’ pilot project– Swahili for Cassava Seed Champion - designs, tests and promotes two commercially sustainable cassava seed supply chain models. This is helping MEDA bridge the gap between research laboratories developing new varieties and farmers looking for affordable high-quality seed. Working with national seed certification authorities, MEDA is building the capacity of seed entrepreneurs to produce disease-resistant and disease-free cassava seeds that can be affordably sold to small farmers. By making marked-based methods of acquiring cassava seeds more acceptable, a consistent supply of preferred varieties of certified cassava seed will be available.

Cassava Seed Champion is a five-year project that will be implemented by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project will enable 18,000 farmers to buy certified seed annually by end of project.

Project Quick Facts

Goal: By testing two commercially based supply chain models for multiplying certified, quality-assured cassava seeds, MEDA will advance the current acceptance and use of market-based methods to provide small farmers with a consistent supply of disease-resistant, disease-free seed.

Reach: 18,000 smallholder farmers buying certified seed annually by end of project.

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Project duration: 2012 - 2016

Click here to read more about phase 2 of this project, BEST Cassava