Frequently Asked Questions about SeedSAT:

What is the vision of a healthy seed system that SeedSAT is using?
  • Answer: The vision of a healthy seed system is one in which farmers grow modern varieties of crops that have product profiles that are responsive to market and consumer demand, and that are also adapted to their environments to ensure resilient and high yields. It is also a system that includes:
    • Domestically-bred and imported crop varieties supplied regularly and renewed at a pace that matches market demand and that gives farmers a range of choices;
    • Healthy competition among public and private seed producers who supply the market with breeder, foundation, certified, and other commercial classes of seed, and who are held accountable for meeting quality standards that are effectively enforced;
    • An appropriate blend of public and private engagement and investment to ensure that important food security crops of open-pollinated varieties, whose early stages of multiplication may not profitable for seed companies, are not neglected;
    • Seed subsidies, if needed, are used carefully and temporarily to develop new markets and bridge market failures for short periods of time.

For more information regarding the vision of a healthy seed system by thematic area, please visit the Thematic Area page of this website.

How is SeedSAT different from TASAI?
  • Answer: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a strong supporter of TASAI. TASAI has been measuring a range of seed system indicators focused on access to seed and attitudinal measures of the performance of selected seed system components. It repeats those measures periodically and is used to measure the direction and level of change over time in a country. TASAI also provides a public dashboard of progress across surveyed countries that can be used to compare relative country performance publicly. Likewise, TASAI provides country briefs that discuss issues and challenges. TASAI researchers are often asked to dive deeper into these issues than its methodology permits. BMGF, based on its experience with the Breeding Program Assessment Tool (BPAT), is funding the design and testing of SeedSAT to conduct a deeper dive into seed systems to uncover the root causes of trends and phenomena than can be done in TASAI.  SeedSAT incorporates available and recent TASAI (and other available surveys) data to avoid duplication, but it uses a full system lens to uncover root causes of the weaknesses and gaps in seed systems .  Root cause analysis  will help guide investment prioritization with national stakeholders and public, private, and development partner investors.  SeedSAT will assess major components of the national seed systems against established best practice benchmarks, for example Excellence in Breeding on National Agriculture Research System (NARS) Effectiveness, the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) on Quality Assurance, and common private seed company KPIs for Early Generation Seed and Commercial Seed Production. Scoring helps to identify what is broken, weak, or missing in relation to what is found in mature and healthy seed systems and how to set investment priorities.  SeedSAT is intended to always be performed with seed experts when needed at country level to help formulate investment plans that are costed and demonstrate value in terms of faster introduction and sustained production and delivery using commercial channels of quality seeds of varieties that are demonstrably superior – in producer and end-user uptake terms – to the most dominant varieties on the market today.  For more information on the value addition and methodology of SeedSAT, please visit the Thematic Areas section of this website.
How were the countries selected for the beta version of SeedSAT?
  • Answer: Nigeria and Ethiopia were selected to test the beta version  of SeedSAT because they have major agricultural economies with intensive transformation efforts, hold very large smallholder farming populations, and because they have major contrasts in the roles that are played by the public and private sectors in their seed systems, providing a good test of the adaptability of the tool to the diverse seed systems throughout Africa.
How were the crops selected for each country for the beta version of SeedSAT?
  • Answer: Crop identification was based on the number of smallholder farmers growing them, their surface area covered, national agricultural development plan priorities, the potential value (food supply and income) of closing current yield gaps according to national agriculture investment strategies, and the seed system channel maturity for that crop.
What is meant by ‘beta version’ of SeedSAT?
  • Answer: We are currently designing and testing the SeedSAT tool in two primary countries where there has been significant progress recently made in the advancement of seed systems: Nigeria and Ethiopia. We will be testing the tool to assess the system across four crops in Ethiopia (maize, tef, sorghum, and wheat) and five crops in Nigeria (maize, rice, cowpea, yam and cassava). The time period for the beta process began in November of 2019 and will end in December of 2020. Finally, the beta version is intended to inform future versions of the SeedSAT tool that will include improvements based on feedback.
When will be the beta tool be ready?
  • Answer: The time period for the beta process began in November of 2019 and will end in December of 2020. Throughout the beta time period we will be modifying the design of the tool based on feedback from the experience of our country counterparts and interviewees, such that the final tool will be available at the end of the period in December 2020.
Will the SeedSAT tool be digitized?
  • Answer: Elements of the beta tool will be digitized, and we are pro-actively developing the digital tools throughout the beta period. For instance, there are pre-visit surveys that are designed to gather basic data and information that are automated through a web-based tool. The SeedSAT researchers will also use an online tool to record observations, create scores, and make recommendations for improvements based on in-person interviews. The digitized tool is intended to house additional analysis of data gathered through the automated surveys and the in-person interviews. The aim of digitizing SeedSAT is to help standardize a format for gathering and recording information that can be used across multiple countries, however, the tool is not a fully automated system and relies heavily on conversations and interactions with country counterparts and interviewees.
How will research and design (R&D) be integrated into the five thematic areas of SeedSAT?
  • Answer: SeedSAT applies learning from the Breeding Program Assessment Tool (BPAT) used to assess Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and some national crop research programs to identify technical, infrastructure, operational, management, and organizational weaknesses and gaps in R&D. For example, many plant breeding programs shared a common challenge in developing and prioritizing their investments around product profiles that more closely align with farmer and end-market demand. SeedSAT uses a modified methodology of pre-interview questions and data collection on research programs and their home institutions before engaging in discussions with research teams to benchmark their programs’ components and engage in joint determination of change and investment priorities.  Please visit the Thematic Areas section of this website to view a more extended explanation of the method and the system indicators that will be used.
What will be included in the final report for SeedSAT?
  • Answer: The final output will be available only after validation with local stakeholders and will include:
    • A final written report on the findings and recommendations;
    • For Early Generation Seed entities, there will be production cost estimates and inventory resource estimates for respondents;
    • For commercial production and distribution, there will be tailored benchmarking reports for respondents;
    • While there may be scores generated for specific objectives under each thematic area, there will not be an overall dashboard of aggregated scores; and
    • There will be the prioritized areas for investment with high level estimated costs for internal/external investment considerations.

Reports and findings will be considered propriety to the host-country institutions, AGRA, the Gates Foundation, and respondents (for EGS and commercial entities). They will be accessed via the SeedSAT.org website, which will have user access permissions.

How often will the SeedSAT tool be implemented?
  • Answer: The SeedSAT assessment process is very intensive and requires dedicated participation of seed system experts and a high amount of collaboration with country stakeholders. After a country’s initial assessment is completed, the process is not intended to be repeated annually, but at longer intervals on the order of 3 to 4 years, determined by signals that there are major shifts and changes in a country’s seed systems that warrants new investments.
Will there be other countries included in SeedSAT?
  • Answer: Once the SeedSAT beta tool is completed and the design accepted, it is intended that future versions of SeedSAT will be rolled out to additional countries in Africa currently supported by AGRA.
Where can I get access to the SeedSAT Kickoff Presentation?
  • Answer: Please visit the bottom of the Home page of this website to access downloadable versions of the Kickoff Presentations for SeedSAT.