“Currently East Africa is a net importer of food but has sufficient land and water resource to be at least self-sufficient, if not an exporter. By providing farmers with the required knowledge and technology this shift can be achieved”

1) Let’s start with some background on QualiBasic Seeds, your products and services.
QualiBasic Seeds  QBS is  a new company, set-up to produce Foundation or Basic Parent seed for small to medium enterprise seed companies. Foundation seeds are the parents that seed companies use to multiply and bulk up their hybrids, achieving high quality standards such as genetic purity and good germination is both a painstaking process and expensive, QBS will set up production, processing and storage in Kenya, Zambia and South Africa and use economies of scale gained from supplying multiple customers across the East and Southern African territory to be able to ensure that the right quantities of the right quality seeds are produced for our customers. We grow parent seeds on behalf of the seed companies with rights to the hybrid and work with both the seed companies and the variety breeder to ensure pure and high quality seed.

We’re working very closely with AATF (African Agricultural Technology Foundation) and their WEMA (Water Efficient Maize for Africa) programme to ensure that the seed companies that have identified WEMA hybrids they wish to sell, have access to sufficient Foundation seed for their multiplication programmes, to the ultimate benefit of small-scale farmers

2) Which current projects are you particularly excited about at the moment?
The whole set-up! We started operations on 12 June and are simultaneously setting up Kenya and South Africa, the HQ is in Kenya and the core team has been hired, sites identified and the East Africa distribution hub set-up. We have stock which we’ve taken over from AATF and are engaging with seed companies to understand both their current and future requirements.

3) How important is East Africa, and Uganda in particular, as an agri market?
Hugely important, East Africa has a rapidly expanding population which is also growing more affluent, this put massive demands on both the quantity and quality of food produced. Currently East Africa is a net importer of food but has sufficient land and water resource to be at least self-sufficient, if not an exporter. By providing farmers with the required knowledge and technology this shift can be achieved.

4) What in your view are the main challenges facing the agri sector in Uganda? And in East Africa?
Access to know-how, finance, seeds, fertilizer and the management of water.

5) Any success stories/case studies that you can share?
A bit early I’m afraid from a QBS perspective but I’m really pleased to see companies starting to sell WEMA Hybrids, both the resistance to drought and yield/quality benefits are being realised.

6) What is your vision for the industry?
East Africa becomes a net exporter of agricultural produce.

7) What surprises you about this sector?
It’s resilience. African farmers put a huge amount of effort into what they do and confront massive challenges, they are not cash rich so have to make carefully informed choices about how they invest in their farming operations and they are frequently hit by “natural” disasters such as drought and pest attack, such as fall army worm.

7) You are a featured speaker the upcoming Agribusiness Congress East Africa on “Advances in the development of drought resistant crops”. What will be your message at the event?
That significant advances have been made in breeding to produce hybrids that provide farmers with yield and quality benefits in the harsh conditions of rain fed East Africa. This is being realised through conventional breeding techniques and we also have strong indication that as and when transgenic crops are approved for production outside South Africa there are varieties that not only tolerate dry conditions well but that also bring along significant advantages such as the ability to resist pests such as Fall Army Worm. These new Hybrids, both conventionally bred and Transgenic put new weapons at the disposal of the African farmer to improve his productivity.

8) What are you most looking forward to at Agribusiness Congress East Africa?
Meeting African seed companies, farmers and advisors

9) Anything you would like to add?
Great opportunity to network and help people see the latest technology and information available.