Community Seed Production of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and Lentil (Lens culinaris Medic) in Ethiopia
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and lentil (Lens culinaris Medic) are the most important grain legumes covering 21.3% of the total acreage (1.6 million ha) and 24.1% of production (23.2 millon tons) of all pulse crops in Ethiopia (CSA 2012). They are grown by more than 1.7 million farmers; are major staple food legumes and are a good source of dietary protein (17 %, 23%). These crops require low input for production and can maintain and restore soil fertility (can fix up to 60 kg N /ha/year). Moreover, they are high potential crops for domestic and export markets and considered to be strategic crops for national food security and agricultural development in the country. Two different types of seed supply systems, formal and informal (community seed production) are known in Ethiopia. To date the majority chickpea and lentil producers obtain their seed for planting informally from own saved seed or through local exchange. The informal seed system for chickpea and lentil currently operates at the individual farmer or community level and depends on local knowledge of plant and seed selection, sourcing, retaining and management, as well as local diffusion mechanisms. It is, therefore, important to continually search for solutions to improve the availability of, access to and use of quality seed required by farmers. In this paper, we provide an overview of community seed production and delivery systems of chickpea and lentil operating in the country; review the initiatives and document best approaches to improve the availability of improved quality seeds to farmers in order to maximize productivity of these crops in Ethiopia.