This week we conclude our series on the latest Seed System Security Assessment, which was conducted in Ethiopia in September/October 2016, where the consequences of the most severe drought in decades are still unfolding. The assessment– which is designed to help development managers and field staff assess whether interventions in seed systems are needed– included a survey of nearly 500 households, interviews with about 50 seed/grain traders, and multiple community meetings and key informant sessions. Learn more about SSSAs.

As we have shown in our last two blog posts, the seed security situation in Ethiopia remains relatively stable, despite the seriousness of the drought the country is currently experiencing. (For example, only 1.3% of farmers interviewed indicated seed availability was an issue in their area, and seed prices rose by only 18% from last year, according to traders.)

The findings serve as a basis for four short-term recommendations for practitioners and policymakers in Ethiopia.

1. Direct seed aid distribution should be limited in 2017, given a) the lack of evidence that seed availability is low in home stocks and markets, and given that b) farmers did not cite seed unavailability as a reason for planting less.

2. Vulnerable farmers should be given means to access seed in Belg 2017 (cash, vouchers, possibly through fairs). The major seed-related reason for farmers planting less had to do with money. This was true for all sites and both Belg and Meher seasons.

3. Vulnerable farmers might also be given means to address other constraints for Belg 2017. Vouchers for oxen might be explored specifically in SNNPR. Some analysis of vouchers for field rental might also be considered.

4. Support for local markets in this emergency/stress context should be considered. Local markets provided 30 to 50% of the seed sown for all legumes and key minor cereals. Select seed/grain traders are also already serving to provide emergency seed stocks in key regions. Support might entail identifying and training ‘seed security traders’ on seed sourcing and selection, and even providing credit for better storage for these key traders.