Business Profiles Featured

African Seed Trade Association: Uniting the Seed Industry

The landscape of the African seed trade is shifting; the industry is moving away from publicly funded seed systems towards a more diversified market which is led by private seed companies and associations. The private seed sector is becoming more and more well-established each year, which has forced governments across Africa to acknowledge the role private seed companies play in the availability and delivery of high-quality seed to farmers across the continent. Therefore, the private seed sector plays a key role in the growth of the agricultural sector and its development across the continent. Consequently, the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) was established in 2000 to be a uniting voice throughout the private seed sector, and to aid in the development of the seed industry both within the continent and across the globe. 

With over 20 years of experience, AFSTA is a not-for-profit membership association formed to champion the interests of private seed companies across the continent. It is registered in Kenya as an international organisation which is providing crucial support, networking, and advocacy for its 150+ members. The members include a variety of private seed companies as well as several national seed trade associations, which have built up a network of companies and organisations across the globe. All the members are working together under AFSTA to bring huge development and security for the seed trade and subsequent agriculture industry in Africa.  

AFSTA’s main objective is to promote the trade of high-quality seed across the continent and towards global seed markets. To do this AFSTA believes in providing its members with key knowledge of the seed industry, which it has gained from its development of a statistical database that looks into the seed production and trade on the continent. Ultimately, AFSTA aims to bring a united voice to the African seed industry by effectively working with governments and NGOs to promote the crucial role that private seed companies play in the African seed industry. Therefore, as an overarching governing body, AFSTA is actively working to establish a level of regulation to bring harmonization throughout the industry in Africa to ensure the efficient delivery of seed. As part of this, they are actively working with seed companies across the continent to set up national seed trade associations. Working with national seed trade associations, AFSTA can ensure consistency throughout the industry due to the personalised perspective of land, economy, and climate that the national associations provide. Therefore, by encouraging countries to establish their own regulatory boards, AFSTA encourages more efficient distribution of seed in the industry, by ensuring that the development of seed business is developing on both a regional and national level.  

AFSTA’s mission is to create the best environment for trade and innovation possible to produce quality seeds for the benefit of its members and farmers in Africa. The Association wants all farmers to have access to top-quality seed which reinforces the stability and security of the food industry. Their work is essential as the African seed industry has faced some crucial challenges; whether that be due to outdated seed laws and regulations (which has had an adverse effect on the ability or desire for private-sector investment in the seed industry), or due to the limited government support for the seed business, which has had knock-on effects through the industries infrastructure, credit, training and implementation of regional policies. Therefore, through AFSTA’s work throughout the private seed industry, they are establishing themselves as an effective partner to the seed policy makers and shareholders to provide advocacy for their members, whilst helping to find solutions to the industry’s constraints. Consequently, AFSTA is working to provide the support framework necessary to foster an environment of success across Africa’s seed trade industry.  

To champion the interests of the private seed companies of Africa, AFSTA is working to provide visibility for their members. As part of this, they include all their members in the directory listing in their African Seed Magazine which is provided yearly to encourage networking and sharing of knowledge and experience towards the betterment of the industry. As part of their role in facilitating a global network, they rotate the annual conference venue to highlight and learn from the diverse cultures across the continent. Their annual conference provides a platform to showcase and integrate new members into the association, giving new members the opportunity to speak on the role they play in the continent’s network of seed suppliers.  

Overall, AFSTA provides a variety of services and advocacy initiatives to help promote the private seed industry across Africa. Working with all its members, crucial stakeholders, and governmental figures, AFSTA has successfully promoted the development of the seed sector towards a more stable future that supports both the seed enterprises and the farmers whom they supply. By acknowledging the constraints throughout the industry, they are well-equipped with the knowledge and expertise to handle and resolve many of these issues throughout the network.  Therefore, AFSTA is leading the way as a governing body that strives to provide a unified voice across the seed industry and promote the African seed industry towards the global expansion of the seed trade across the world.