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It all starts with the right seeds : Quality seeds and soil are the blood line of cultivation.

Namibia Institution of Seeds (NIOS)

Namibia Institution of Seeds (NIOS) CC is a 100 % Namibia Company established in 2018 operating exclusively in Namibia. NIOS have a wide scope of work mainly, organising farmers to produce seeds and train them on how to produce quality seeds.

NIOS’ mission statement is to avail top quality certified seed competitively through focused research, development and value addition to the satisfaction of our customers.

Our Vision is to be the preferred supplier of top quality certified seed and fresh farm produce in Namibia and SADC.

Our mandate is to carry out focused research, promote and facilitate production of high yielding, better quality certified seed, to enhance food self-sufficiency and quality living standards for sustainable economic development in the region.

We are guided and operating closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) to make sure that, what we are producing is within their seed standards and regulation.

Seed is the most important determinant of agricultural production potential

Seed is the most important determinant of agricultural production potential on which the efficacy of other agricultural inputs depends. Seeds of appropriate characteristics are required to meet the demand of diverse agro-climatic conditions and intensive cropping systems. Notably, crop production provides the basic sustenance for the majority of people living in the northern regions of Namibia and depends mainly on agriculture for their livelihoods. Therefore a sustained increase in agricultural production and productivity is dependent largely on development of new and improved varieties of crops and an efficient system for timely supply of quality seed to producers. It is well known that in Namibia, crop production especially at small scale farmers in the communal areas of the country depend on seasonal rainfalls. Rainfall patterns are usually unpredictable and of short duration (2-3 months) making it difficult for many farmers to select seeds for the next season.

Crops grown in the communal areas

The most important crops grown in the communal areas are Pearl millet (Mahangu), Sorghum, Cowpeas, Maize, Bambara ground-nuts and Groundnuts. Effort has been made by the Namibian Government to develop and improve varieties of pearl millet (Okashana 2 and Kangara) sorghum (Macia and Red sorghum) and cowpeas: (Shindimba, Bira and Nakare) in response to the current climatic conditions. In Namibia, MAWF is the responsible authority for production and maintenance of breeder’s and foundation seed. Foundation seeds requires multiplication in order to cater for the farming communities’ hence the production of certified seed is outsourced to Seed Cooperatives such as [Northern Namibia Producers Seed Growers Cooperative (NNFSGC LTD), Likorerere and Katima Farmers Seed Producer Cooperative (KAFASEPCO)] just few years after independence. It is logical to involve more stakeholders in seed production in order to make Namibia self-sustainable when it comes to seeds and crop production. NIOS saw an opportunity and has taken a step ahead in playing a role in the production of certified seeds with the aim of making it available to their clients and to the general public. It was a challenge to kick start our operations and still many obstacles are in our way since there are no regulations in Namibia as far as seed production, plant breeders’ rights, and farmer’s rights is concerned.

The seed policy

The seed policy has been enacted paving ways for more possible laws and regulations in the crops and seed production industry. At the moment NIOS produce and supply various seeds types (Pearl millet, Cowpea, Cleome, Amarathus, Calabash, spinach, assorted lettuce, sorghum, Bambaragroundnut, kalahari melon and local pumpkins) in limited quantities. Furthermore, ready to plant seedlings are also available on request. We are equally happy to announce that the public responded positively which enabled us to sell all our seeds that were in stock between December 2019 and January 2020. This is an indication that there is a need for our services. For the seed system to effectively act as a catalyst of agricultural transformation, seeds of improved varieties have to be made available to a broad base of women, men, and youth farmers on a continuous basis, at the right quantity, quality, time, and price. Majority of the farmers in Namibia have very limited access to high quality, improved seed in convenient outlets, and many released varieties of different crops with superior traits have not still been widely disseminated. Some of the specific challenges associated with seeds include the limited capacity and lack of role clarity of the different actors, the focus of the system on very few crops and varieties, mismatch between supply and demand resulting in shortage and excess inventory, and quality issues due to inappropriate production, storage, and transport practices. An additional area of complexity is the fact that formal seed production (defined as seed provided to farmers through an institutionalized network of public and private institutions) still has a limited footprint in Namibia, covering very little total agricultural land area.

We are therefore recommending that farmers who are able to contribute to food security should be encouraged and assisted in seed production in order to increase production.

For further information and enquiry on quality seeds, you can email: lhorn@unam.na or contact them at +26481 2032492

Contributed by Dr. Lydia Ndinelao Horn (Plant Breeder)
NIOS Managing Director