Alemayehu Makonnen is a local seed entrepreneur in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in southwest Ethiopia who specialises in producing hybrid seeds with support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Programme for African Seed Systems (PASS). Compared to other countries where AGRA operates, uptake of hybrid maize has been slow in Ethiopia, with fewer than 10% of farmers adopting the technology. This low level of adoption is likely due to the lack of availability of the seed through established seed systems.
Makonnen cites the major reason why people do not use quality seeds and input as a lack of access. In 2011, he was able to expand his production of hybrid seed with the support of a US$200,000 grant from AGRA. He also started working with a Zimbabwean maize breeding company – Seed Co. Ltd. – to acquire the supply of the parent material for hybrid seed production.
Following the expansion of Makonnen Farm Ltd., he was able to sell seed to 1,000 farmers. When other farmers saw the success of their crop, they became interested in buying the seed, resulting in sales to 6,000 farmers in 2012. By 2013, Makonnen was selling seed to 16,000 farmers and cultivating 100ha of land for the production of hybrid maize seed. He expects 20,000 customers in 2015, showing that adoption is growing. Makonnen reports that 80% of smallholders who buy his seed and use reasonably good management practices realise an average of 4t/ha, whilst some farmers have reached up to 6t/ha. This is in comparison to the national average of 2t/ha.