COVID-19 Response


ImageThe agricultural sector employs around 70% of the working population and is an important pillar of the economy, accounting for 38% of the gross domestic product. However, the low productivity of Ethiopian agriculture cannot ensure food security for the rapidly growing population and is unable to provide an impetus for the necessary economic transformation. To meet these challenges, Ethiopian agriculture must become more productive. The use of resistant and high-yielding seeds is one of the key factors that will increase agricultural productivity in Ethiopia. Currently, certified seeds of improved varieties are only used on about 20% of the arable land. Demand from farmers for certified seed of adapted varieties that achieve stable yields through resistance to common plant diseases is high, but the lack of availability limits their use.

On behalf of the German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Supporting Sustainable Agricultural Productivity Project (SSAP) supports the Ethiopian government’s efforts to improve conditions for production of early generation seed - effectively, strengthening the seed sector in Ethiopia and contributing to increased agricultural productivity. The third phase of the project (2021-2023) is implemented in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR). Several private and public partners from Germany, such as the Federal Plant Variety Office, the German plant breeder association GFPi and the seed company KWS Saat SE & Co. KGaA, support the project by providing expert advice and training opportunities.



To improve conditions for the production of early generation seed and strengthen Ethiopia’s seed sector, thus contributing to an increase in agricultural productivity.

Specific Objectives:

  1. The legal frame conditions of variety testing, release and quality control system (in the area of responsibility of the MoA) are further developed.

  2. At least one of the following conditions for a market-oriented production of EGS are fulfilled:

                a.Public pricing of EGS classes is based on actual production cost.

 b.Introduction of royalty fees for protected varieties (when the Plant Breeders Rights’ Regulation is fully endorsed)

 3. At least one barley variety bred by EIAR with proven yield or quality improvements is released by the end of the project.



Variety development: The seed companies KWS, NPZ and the German Association of Plant Breeders GFPi, assist the EIAR in breeding locally adapted barley and faba bean varieties with better yield, resistance and quality.

Variety testing and release: In cooperation with the German Federal Plant Variety Office (BSA), the project promotes the application of international standards in seed quality control and variety release. Farmers will gain access to the best varieties if all varieties are tested in a competitive and rigorous process and only the best performing varieties are released, multiplied and offered on the market.

Variety protection The project supports its partners to establish a royalty system to generate investments for variety development to maintain resistance and stable yields of crop varieties long-term.

Early generation seed (EGS) production: SSAP works to increase the availability of EGS as a key bottleneck to farmer’s access to improved seeds. The project assists selected private seed producers and EIAR to significantly increase the quantity and quality of pre-basic and basic seed of non-hybrid varieties of cereals and pulses.

Legal & institutional frame conditions: With SSAP’s support, the MoA creates enabling frame conditions for a resilient seed sector by implementing the National Seed Policy (2020), coordinating public, private and development partners and supporting a transition to a market-oriented production of early generation seed.


Results of the current phase (2021-2023)

  • Precision of breeding trials increased by 40% through improved machinery, data capturing and analysis.
  • Faba bean breeding cycle shortened from 10-12 to 6-4 years by using the Belg off-season for breeding.
  • 12 ha additional land for breeding trials available through land leveling at Debre Berhan Agricultural Research Center.
  • International protocols for variety testing of (Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) and Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) protocols are applied adapted for barley and wheat.
  • The legal basis for effective variety protection laid with the new plant breeder’s right (PBR) proclamation (2018) and the PBR directive (2021) effective.
  • Three private seed producers started production of early generation seed of teff and faba bean in 2021.
  • Integrated EGS production is in place among various actors and contract-based EGS production and distribution between seed suppliers and producers is facilitated.

Results of previous phases (2015-2020)

  • The project’s advice to improve strategic legal framework conditions in collaboration with the German Federal Plant Variety Office contributed to:
  • The ratification of a National Seed Policy in 2020
  • The endorsement of the new proclamation on Plant Breeder’s Right in 2018.
  • Approval of Standards for Quality Declared Seeds (for 17 crops).
  • The national and four regional seed laboratories use improved equipment and apply at least two seed quality standards set by the International Seed Testing Association.
  • EIAR has increased fourfold the number of effective crosses made annually in barley breeding and cut the breeding time for a new variety by 30%. As a result, newly introduced quantitative breeding parameters have significantly improved. At least one new barley variety is expected to be released in 2021.
  • 1,300 farmers organized into nine seed producer cooperatives have increased their annual production of barley and wheat seeds to 1,200 tons per year (2020). As a result, circa 64,000 farmers are supplied with improved seeds.
  • 46 additional tons of early generation seed produced by EIAR as part of Covid19 emergency seed response in 2020.

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