Cultivation in Kasai DRC, May 2017
Cultivation in Kasai-Oriental DRC, May 2017


Classic example of a chronically-stressed area in a fragile state

Few new varieties. Massive storage loss. Minimal non-seed input use. No agro-enterprise. Poor soils. Kasai-Oriental is a classic example of a chronically stressed agriculture region in need of a jumpstart. These are the findings from a May 2017 Seed System Security Assessment (SSSA) in Kasai-Oriental province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Funded by the USAID Office of Food for Peace and led by Catholic Relief Services, the Government of the DRC, CARITAS, INERA, REFED, and others, the SSSA was conducted in Kasai-Oriental to serve as a baseline for a new USAID Development and Food Aid Program (DFAP) while building assessment capacity in the growing field of seed systems. Miabi and Tshilundu were the zones assessed.

The assessment found few acute stress trends, though chronic stresses abound:

1. Farmers rely on local channels for 99% of their seed needs, with nearly no role for formal sector players like agro-dealers, community-based seed groups, or government/NGOs. Less than 12% of farmers had obtained a new variety in the previous five years. As a result, farmers have little opportunity for innovation and crop value chains are stunted.

2. Though seed/grain losses in storage range from 25-95% (especially for maize and legumes), only 2% of farmers utilize storage chemicals. Furthermore, only 2% of farmers utilize mineral fertilizer. Availability and access issues were cited as the reasons for low usage of non-seed inputs.

3. Farmers planting less seed from one season to another cite a lack of money to buy seed, ill health, and reduced land access. Very few farmers cite a lack of seed availability, indicating that free direct seed distributions may not be an appropriate response for solving production constraints. Even farmers who are increasing seed use frequently cite poor soil fertility, which forces farmers to utilize higher sowing rates to compensate (i.e. use more seed to get the same low yields).

Concrete recommendations are presented on page 59 of the full report. Seed system development will need to be very practical, including decentralizing sales to the small, rural boutiques that routinely serve these remote communities.

To learn more about the tools and templates used, visit:

SeedSystem community: what actions would you recommend in a chronically-stressed setting like Kasai-Oriental?