NAIROBI, Kenya: 09 September, 2021 – A new center has been launched to champion development of quality seed of improved varieties in Africa with the goal of boosting agricultural productivity.

The Center of Excellence for Seed Systems in Africa (CESSA) was unveiled today at the AGRF 2021 Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. It will be hosted at AGRA (the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), whose role will be convening seed actors to help fill gaps, and build capacities and varieties that respond to needs of farmers in Sub Saharan Africa.

The center will begin operations in 2022, supporting governments, private sector and development partners to deliver modern, effective and resilient seed systems that serve African farmers better. It will strengthen the seed value chain, particularly variety development and release, production and distribution of both early generation and certified seed, farmer awareness creation and participation, quality assurance, national planning, policy and regulatory frameworks.  

“Initiatives for improving Africa’s seed systems by different public and private actors remain uncoordinated today. With partners, CESSA will bridge this gap, supporting informed, evidence-based decision making, investments and provision of technical advice and support for implementation of improved seed systems,” said Dr. George Bigirwa, AGRA’s Deputy Vice President for Program Innovations and Delivery.

CESSA, working with partners, will conduct national seed system analyses, provide advisory services and external technical assistance, as well as training and capacity building for the seed sector. This is in addition to fostering partnerships and networks leading to grants and other investments in the sector.

Dr Bigirwa noted: “We invite partners, countries and other agriculture sector stakeholders to partner with AGRA in this initiative to enhance sustainable productivity in African farms”.

AGRA has been contributing to the development of Africa’s seed system since 2006, when it was founded. In under 15 years, the organization has funded development and release of 659 improved varieties for 18 crops. This is in addition to supporting 119 homegrown seed companies in 18 African countries, which have, until now, produced 847,655 metric tonnes of quality seed, benefiting 25.1 million farmers.

Over the last year, AGRA has piloted a diagnostic process for seed systems, known as Seed System Assessment Tool (SeedSAT), in Ethiopia and Nigeria. Lessons from the SeedSAT, which will be one of the center’s components, will be used to deepen country-specific requirements.

CESSA is funded by PIATA partners.-



PIATA is a strategic partnership that brings together funding and thought leadership from organizations active in African agriculture – AGRA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Rockefeller Foundation, Department for International Development (DFID), BMZ Germany and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

About AGRA

Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. Together with our partners, we catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.

More information: ; Rebecca Weaver,;

About AGRF

The AGRF is the premier forum for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward. The Forum is designed to energize political will and advance the policies, programs and investments required to achieve an inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation across the continent.

More information:; Catherine Ndung’u