The Innovation Fund from the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (CRP-GLDC) supported the scaling of improved seed in Tanzania by engaging and strengthening of eleven seed enterprises from public and private sectors for the production and scaling-up and -out of improved varieties of groundnut and sorghum to farming communities through capacity building of Small and Medium Seed Businesses. These seed enterprises include, Agricultural Seed Agency (public), Agriseed Technologies Limited, Alssem Company Limited, Lima Africa Company, Mbozi Highlands Economic Group Company Limited (MHEG), Namburi Agricultural Company Limited, Pavig Agro Company Limited, Rieta Agrosciences Company Limited, Temnar Company Limited, Zasse Agricultural Seed and Food Company Limited (private companies), and DASPA (Dodoma Agricultural seed production Association), a farmer seed producer organization. These seed enterprises were de-risked to invest in production to delivery of improved seed of groundnut and sorghum by focusing on crop value-chains derived through multiple stakeholder consultations.

Varieties and demonstrations: Five sorghum varieties (Macia, NACOMtama1, Tegemeo, NACO SH1, Wahi) and three varieties of groundnut (Naliendele 2016, Mnanje 2009, Mangaka 2009) were prioritized. One seed company, Alssem Company Limited, was trained on groundnut seed production by Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute Naliendele focusing on early generation seed production for the Tanzanian markets. In addition, four seed business management and managerial skills training were offered to seed companies being de-risked. To facilitate farmers’ awareness and access to nutritious varieties of sorghum and groundnut to better cope with COVID-19 threats, a total of 411 demonstrations were held between February – June 2021, and a total of 2018 seed packs are expected to be distributed after harvesting (July- August).

Business plans: Eleven seed enterprises, both public and private were supported to develop business plans that include Lima Africa Company, DASPA, TARI Hombolo/Ilonga, TARI- Naliendele, Temnar Company Limited, Agriseed Technologies Limited, MHEG, Pavig Agro Company Limited, Rieta Agrosciences, Alssem Company Limited, and Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) of Tanzania. One master business plan is expected at country level. A total of 1,845 farmers and youth were trained on good agronomic practices for quality seed and grain production during July- August, 2021.

Key output: About 20 metric tons of seed of groundnut and sorghum is projected for production that will be supplied to smallholder farmers.

Collaborative agreements: To enhance delivery and access to quality seed of groundnut and sorghum, collaborative arrangements between the national R&D programs, government, and private sector partners have been developed that include:

  1. The Seed Revolving Fund Initiative (SRFI).
  2. Youth Engagement and Gender Inclusion (YEGI) that is being piloted through the Youth Quality Center in groundnut and sorghum value chains in Eastern Africa (Tanzania).
Value chain stakeholders’ meeting during SRFI-YEGI launch in Dar Es Salaam. Photo Credit: E. Manyasa.

Value chain stakeholders’ meeting during SRFI-YEGI launch in Dar Es Salaam. Photo Credit: E. Manyasa.

Study to identify critical bottlenecks faced in GLDC crop seed value chains: The study covering groundnut and sorghum in Tanzania assessed, (i) varietal attributes and preference for seed value chain actors, (ii) drivers of adoption decisions for improved sorghum and groundnut varieties by farmers, (iii) farmers’ cost-benefit for producing quality seeds of improved varieties of sorghum and groundnut, (iv) factors influencing productivity of sorghum and groundnut by smallholder farmers, (v) existing seed production and delivery systems, and (vi) the critical bottlenecks in groundnut and sorghum seed supply chain. The study was implemented using a cross-sectional research design involving a multistage sampling technique to select 2620 farmers (1312 groundnuts and 1308 sorghum), 104 seeds producers (72 groundnuts and 32 sorghum seed producers), and 24 seed processors and marketers (15 groundnuts and 9 sorghum). Qualitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics while quantitative data were analyzed using probit model. STATA and SPSS were used to analyze both qualitative and quantitative data. The key findings of the study are:

Varietal preferences of various stakeholders

Sorghum is mainly regarded as a food crop while groundnut is a cash crop. Major traits/attributes considered by the groundnut and sorghum farmers as influencing their choice of a variety included, yield potential (33%), market demand (16%), taste (14%), maturity time (10%) and drought tolerance (7%). In addition, oil content was considered important for groundnut, while kernel color was important for sorghum. Traits such as kernel color (49%), grain size (43%), taste and oil content (36%) were ranked as very important by groundnut farmers due to their influence on grain sale prices. For sorghum, kernel color (51%), taste (42%) grain quality (39%) and long shelf life (39) were reported as very important traits mainly due to their effect on grain sale prices. Moreover, for household consumption, groundnut famers regarded taste (38%), oil content (32%) and grain size (32%) and nutritive content (26%) as their very important traits for household consumption. Sorghum farmers considered taste (41%), color (38%), grain quality (33%) and nutritive value (26%) as important traits for household consumption.

Sorghum demonstration plots in Dodoma. Photo credit: E. Akpo.

Sorghum demonstration plots in Dodoma. Photo credit: E. Akpo.

Drivers and barriers of varietal adoption

The adoption of improved varieties of sorghum and groundnut is still low, with less than 30% adoption rates despite the efforts undertaken to develop improved varieties and promote them in dryland farming communities. Adoption of improved sorghum varieties was 21%, while that of improved groundnut was 27%. The widely adopted improved varieties of sorghum included Macia (7%), Pato (4%) and Tegemeo (3%), Naco (2%) Wagita (2%), Wahi (1%), Hakika (1%) and Okoa (1%). The most adopted improved groundnut varieties were Pendo 1998 (11%), Mnanje 2009 (7%), Mangaka 2009 (4%) and Nachi 2015 (4%). Other factors influencing adoption of improved sorghum included household membership to the farmers’ group, area under production, access to extension services, food shortage and seasonal vulnerability, and distance to the main market. Adoption of improved groundnut varieties was also influenced by household membership to the farmers’ group, the area under groundnut production, access to extension services, food shortage vulnerability and gender.

Factors influencing productivity of sorghum and groundnuts

Sorghum production is a relatively labor intensive (requires 108 person days), especially during weeding and bird scaring when compared to groundnut that requires about 55 person days. However, comparing to other farming activities, weeding is the most labor demanding farming activity where most of the labor force engaged in sorghum and groundnut production comes from the family (61% for groundnut and 73% for sorghum). Hired labor accounted for 39% and 27% of the total labor deployed in groundnut and sorghum production, respectively. Groundnut farmers ranked drought (58%), poor market access and price (56%), non-availability of improved varieties (54%), diseases (44%) and high cost of seeds (43%) as very important production constraints limiting groundnut farming in the study areas. Sorghum farmers indicated that drought (62%), bird attacks (59%), poor market access and price (53%), unavailability of improved varieties (52%), High cost of seeds (40%), diseases (39%) and field and storage pests (39%) as very important production constraints affecting sorghum production in the study sites.

Cost-benefit analysis of producing the improved seeds

The study showed that the average total cost for producing groundnut per acre TZS 379,322 = US$ 165 was higher than the cost of producing sorghum per acre (TZS 200,154 = US$ 87), with the dollar exchange rate to local Tanzania Shillings (TZS) as US$ 1 to TZS 2300 during data collection period. The cost of labor for both crops were relatively higher compared to other inputs, followed by the cost of seed and tractor hire for ploughing. However, being a higher value crop, cost of seed for groundnut were higher compared to sorghum. Productivity of groundnut seed varied between 452 kg/acre to 328 kg/acre while that of sorghum varies between 439 kg/acre to 288 kg/acre depending on seed class, variety, type, and level of input intensification. The mean price that farmers are willing to pay for improved seed of sorghum was TZS 1953 /kg, with a minimum of TZS 500 /kg and maximum of TZS 10 000 /kg while groundnut farmers were willing to pay a minimum and maximum price of TZS 1000 and 8000 per kg with an average price of TZS 2135 /kg for the improved groundnut seeds. This indicates that, as long as varieties have farmer preferred traits and are available to the farming communities, prices will not be a constraint on their adoption. While seed producers of all classes were able to make a positive profit at different margins for both crops, groundnuts seeds production is relatively profitable compared to sorghum seed production with a margin of TZS 2,676,000 /acre for breeder, TZS 844,300 /acre for certified and TZS 496,972 /acre for the Quality Declared Seed (QDS). Sorghum seed production fetched a margin of TZS 2,702,500 per acre for breeder seeds, TZS 541,916 per acre for certified seeds and TZS 263,768 per acre for QDS seeds. Breeder seed had higher margin compared to other seed classes because of relatively higher yields and prices, resulting to higher revenue hence higher profit despite the higher production costs.

Seed production and delivery systems

Our findings show that most of the sorghum (75%) and groundnut (69.4%) seed producers are small scale producers farming on less than 2 acres plots. Among the seed producers interviewed, majority (94%) produce Quality Declared Seed class and 6% produce other seed classes including certified and breeder seeds of both crops. This implies that the private led investment in production of seed was limited to only 3% and 6% of producers who produce certified seeds of sorghum and groundnut, respectively. While a majority of seed production plots were managed by male (61%), there was a good representation of female plot managers for groundnut seed production (46%) compared to sorghum (25%). Majority of seed producers and marketers operate at small scale, with limited number of distribution points inside and outside the district of production. Majority of seed producers and marketers (75%) had single selling point found in the production district and none (62%) outside the production district. Main buyers of groundnut and sorghum seed were brokers who buy at home (57%) and individuals at village open markets (39%). Only few respondents (4%) for groundnut and sorghum indicated selling their produce to exporting companies and processing companies. Majority (79%) of seed producers of both crops sell non-branded seed, the situation being worst for groundnut that had no branded seed packed, mainly since most of the groundnut seed producers were directly contracted by seed companies. The most traded sorghum varieties were Macia (56%) and NACO1 (38%), while Mangaka 2009 (36%), Pendo 1998 (28%) and Mnanje 2009 (21%) were the most popular commercialized groundnut varieties.

Critical bottlenecks in groundnut and sorghum seed supply chains

The major constraining factors hindering both groundnut and sorghum seed production and marketing were unpredictable weather (29%), low seed demand (21%) and high production cost (17%). Other factors included low purchasing power by smallholder farmers (13%), limited awareness on the use of improved seeds by farmers (8.3%) and competition (8.3%). Likewise, seed marketers and processors identified constrains such as unreliable seed market (27%), high seed rate (20%) and poor access of improved varieties (13%), lack of machinery for farm operations (13%) and high cost of basic and breeder seeds (13%) as the major weaknesses in the groundnut seed system that undermine their seed business. The unreliable seed market (33%), poor access of improved varieties (22%), great competition from QDS farmers (11%), high seed rate (11%) and lack of machinery for farm operations (11%) and high cost of basic and breeder seeds (11%) were the major weaknesses in the sorghum seed system. Majority (54%) of groundnut and sorghum farmers had no or limited access to extension services that may hinder adoption of productivity enhancing knowledge and improved varieties of groundnut and sorghum in the study areas, as smallholder farmers. The study also found that several opportunities exist for enhancing adoption of improved seed of sorghum and groundnut, indicating a promising seed business in the future. These opportunities include increased demand of improved varieties in recent years (29%), increased linkages with grain off-takers (25%), and increased farmers’ awareness of using improved seeds (17%).

Overall, the adoption of improved varieties of sorghum and groundnut in Tanzania is still limited, mostly driven by the weak seed value chains that among others also have an underinvested from the private sector. While groundnut seed production is relatively more expensive, it does have a relatively higher return on investments. During this activity, diverse seed enterprises received training and linkages to research (for EGS) and support to develop business plans to guide their investments in seed Agri-preneurship for the target GLDC crops.  In the meantime, farmers will continue accessing improved seed of these GLDC crops as the QDS seed class, compared to certified seed sold by commercial ventures. The prospects for a viable seed sector for these crops exist as the companies roll out their business plans, and with strategic investments in key segments of the respective value chains, adoption rates are expected to improve.

Groundnut seed production field in Dodoma. Photo credit: B. Shuma.

Groundnut seed production field in Dodoma. Photo credit: B. Shuma.

Authors: Patrick Okori, Essegbemon Akpo, Chris Ojiewo, Gerald Alex, Devotha Mchao & Bob Shuma.

Collaborating Partners: Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute; Tanzania Seed Trade Association, Public and Private seed companies in Tanzania.


  • ICRISAT Research impact highlights 2020. Building resilient agri-food systems in East and Southern Africa. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.  Nairobi, Kenya. 19p.
  • ICRISAT Annual Report 2020. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. Patancheru 502 324, Telangana, India. 44p.

Acknowledgment: This work was undertaken as part of the Innovation fund provided by the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (CRP-GLDC) and supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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