27 Jan 2021
Public-private partnership SEVIA: Tanzania welcomes better seeds and agricultural training
SEVIA was a public-private partnership (PPP) aimed at contributing to food security in Tanzania by professionalising vegetable production. As a vegetable breeding company, Rijk Zwaan was involved right from the start. Over the course of seven years, SEVIA and its partners hosted more than 1,150 demonstrations, trained 1,435 sector professionals and reached over 48,000 farmers.
Rijk Zwaan’s Mary Maganga, who is based in Arusha, Tanzania, has first-hand experience of SEVIA’s positive impact: “There are numerous small-scale farms in Tanzania. Their yields are relatively small, and many farmers lack the right skills to produce crops effectively. That is why we as a vegetable breeding company participated in SEVIA to transfer knowledge about better production techniques.”
Higher productivity, more stable income
“At the beginning, farmers are mostly interested in a better yield. That’s an immediately tangible result which generates a higher production level and a more stable income for themselves and their families. However, the farmers who participated in SEVIA soon realised that they are at the very start of the food chain, and that their fresh and nutritious vegetables also contribute to a better diet for people in their community. A great result and, ultimately, the harvest increased by at least 50%,” explains Mary.
Vegetables contribute to nutrient security
Vegetable consumption contributes to the intake of essential vitamins and minerals and is therefore a key part of a healthy diet. The population in Africa is growing rapidly. “Vegetable farming must be further developed in order to provide the towns and cities in Africa with sufficient nutritious food as well as to stimulate local entrepreneurship and export activities. Through SEVIA, we trained farmers, shared knowledge and hence improved the availability of fresh vegetables. Today, local families and communities have better access to healthy and affordable vegetables,” concludes Mary.
In addition to Rijk Zwaan, the PPP comprised Wageningen University & Research, East-West Seed, the Dutch government and many Tanzanian partners. Heleen Bos, Rijk Zwaan’s Specialist Foreign Development Projects, was involved right from the start. “The public-private partnership called SEVIA, which stands for ‘Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Industry of Africa’, ran from 2014 until 2020. SEVIA has now come to an end, but farmers continue to use improved seeds and apply new production techniques.”
As Rijk Zwaan, we are involved in many other public-private partnerships, including in Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. “We are pleased to contribute to such projects and to collaborate with so many different partners worldwide,” adds Heleen.
CSR at Rijk Zwaan
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a natural part of Rijk Zwaan; you could say it is in our genes. We firmly believe that our specific knowledge and techniques relating to vegetable seeds enable us to contribute to a healthy future. By targeting our breeding activities to develop more robust and resilient varieties with better resistances, higher yields and a longer shelf life, we support the more sustainable and efficient production and processing of vegetables. To improve the accessibility and availability of fresh nutritious vegetables for people all over the world, we collaborate with countless partners in the food chain. In our everyday work, we contribute to a better world through the things we do and the way we treat people. This is how we give meaning to our mission of ‘Sharing a healthy future’. Read more about our CSR initiatives.