MEDA, Context Global Development (CGD) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are collaborating to commercialize seed multiplication technologies, and new models that drive private sector investment into banana seed systems in Tanzania and Uganda.
Bananas, cassava and sweet potato are three staple crops that reproduce via vegetative propagation, a daughter plant growing from a piece of its mother plant. In the Great Lakes region of East Africa (Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya), banana’s importance is pronounced by being the most significant contributor for small farmer livelihood and greatest agricultural contributor to national income.
Banana demand is high. However, the level of production farmers realize is extremely low because common varieties planted are highly susceptible to pests and diseases in both field environments and throughout the planting process. Many farmers are trapped in a productivity paradox year after year, where poor-quality seed is planted, low yields are realized, and improved varieties of banana are not available because the systems to deliver them are not cost-effective for income-constrained smallholder farmers. Low multiplication rates as well as inefficient business operations and distribution models are the biggest drawbacks from improving the vitality of a formal seed system. In result, nursery operations and tissue culture labs operate at too high a cost to broaden the use of improved seed.
RAPID is a 4-year project led by MEDA and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is developed and implemented in collaboration with partner and subgrantee Context Global Development (CGD), a sister organization to The Context Network. The Context Network provides agribusiness strategy and management consulting services globally. The RAPID project will improve banana seed distribution systems in Tanzania and Uganda by commercializing seed multiplication technologies and creating new business models that drive private sector investment into banana seed systems. This will be achieved through the following interventions:
- Establishing efficient connections between national research institutions in Tanzania and Uganda with private sector companies producing early generation banana.
- Pilot and scale new technologies that improve multiplication rates and operational efficiency of tissue culture labs and nursery operations to drive down costs and make a viable candidate for investment.
- Implement new technologies and improved business models that optimize operations of banana seed producers leading to establish efficient distribution to small farmers in need of new banana varieties and quality seed.