Closure of Élan RDC
After seven years and more than 200 partnerships covering 15 provinces and impacting close to 1,000,000 people, Élan RDC ceased operations in July 2021. Élan RDC was a private sector development program, funded by UK AID Direct and Adam Smith International, aimed at improving the functioning of markets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). TASAI was one of Élan’s partners in the DRC from 2017 to 2021. A TASAI DRC country study done in collaboration with Élan in 2017 revealed multiple gaps in the seed sector, such as inadequate capacity in the National Seed Service (SENASEM) at national and provincial levels, high prevalence of counterfeit seed, inadequate basic seed for seed producers, and weak seed producer associations. To respond to these gaps, the TASAI team worked together with Élan RDC and local stakeholders in early 2018 to draft a strategy document on how to implement the recommendations of the assessment. The strategy was discussed and approved during three seed sector meetings in Goma, Kinshasa, and Lubumbashi.
In 2019 and 2021, TASAI and Élan registered several successes as they partnered to implement the strategy:
In July 2019, TASAI convened a technical meeting at the INERA headquarters in Kinshasa to update the DRC National Variety Catalogue. Eighteen new varieties were added; 30 varieties that were no longer being maintained by INERA or IITA were dropped. The catalog now features 215 varieties, in three volumes: Cereals (51 varieties), Legumes (90), and Roots and Tubers (74). Of these, 10 have bio-fortified characteristics: maize (3), beans (4), and cassava (3).
A second success was the linking of seed companies to the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) in Harare to access basic seed of maize hybrid varieties. CIMMYT has signed licensing agreements with four seed companies in North Kivu – AGRIREF, PREMILOG, BARAKA, and JOB seed. These companies now have access to several CIMMYT parental lines for low, medium, and high-altitude maize hybrid varieties, and will commercialize these varieties among farmers across North Kivu province.
The third success was the passage of the decree to establish the Provincial Seed Council (COPROSEM), signed on 3rd May 2021 by Hon. Carly Nzanzu, the Governor of North Kivu province. COPROSEM North Kivu, under the leadership of representatives from the public and private sectors, is now a legal entity with a mandate to coordinate seed sector activities in the province.
The TASAI team is particularly grateful to Bastiaan Hueskens and Ngama Munduku from Élan and Prof. Christophe Asanzi, Alfred Mutundi, Prof. Luciens Nyembo, and Abdias Utono, who were part of the TASAI DRC country team.