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Capacity Building in Fragile Contexts

New Short Courses for Somaliland and South Sudan

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  • Agricultural development in the Horn of Africa faces unique challenges due to ongoing crises and fragile contexts.


  • To address these challenges, training programs focusing on resilient seed systems have been developed.

  • These programs have prioritized the establishment and management of community seed banks and seed labs, crucial for preserving genetic diversity and ensuring seed quality.


  • Trainees have participated in study tours to Kenya and Uganda to gain hands-on experience.


  • With NUFFIC's support, basic seed lab facilities have been installed at Sanaag University and the University of Burao in Somaliland.

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The primary aim of this initiative is to strengthen the capabilities of agricultural professionals in Somaliland and South Sudan through specialized training on community seed banks and seed labs. This is part of the broader project “Entrepreneurship for Food System Resilience: Horticulture, Seeds, Fodder, and Data Capabilities to Improve Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) Outcomes and Generate Income (E4FSR),” supported by NUFFIC and the Netherlands.


Coordinated by the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen University and Research, along with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, this project has developed a participatory curriculum. This approach has led to the creation of eight new short courses—two for South Sudan and six for Somaliland—combining theoretical frameworks and practical applications to enhance existing community seed banks and seed labs, as well as establish new ones.

Course Methodology

Interactive Discussions

Encouraging open dialogue and exchange of ideas among participants

Problem-Based Learning

 Focusing on solving real-world problems to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Collaborative Projects

Working in teams to complete tasks, fostering collaboration and teamwork

Multimedia Resources

Utilizing a variety of media such as videos, Manuals, and infographics to cater to different learning styles

Self-Paced Modules

 Allowing learners to progress at their own speed and revisit materials as needed

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Peer Assessment

Involving peers in evaluating each other's work, promoting a sense of responsibility and accountability.


Course Contents

Community Seed Banks


Topic 1: The multiple functions and services of community seed banks offers an analytical framework to decide about the objectives and organization of the core activities of a community seed bank, which can vary by country and location.

Topic 2: Trends in agricultural biodiversity introduces two tools to assess the current abundance (richness) and distribution (evenness) of local agricultural biodiversity within farming communities at the crop (species) and variety levels, and to trace and analyze the trend over time. These analyses are instrumental to decide about the reason(s) for establishing a community seed bank.

Topic 3: Steps and process of establishing and supporting a community seed bank presents a logical sequence of the major steps involved to start and maintain a community seed bank.

Topic 4: Technical issues of operating community seed banks defines the key principles and practices for the effective operations of a community seed bank from a technical point of view.

Topic 5: Governance and management looks at how community seed banks are dealing with governance and aspects of management of the day-to-day operations, including costs.

Topic 6: Support and networking discusses the importance of providing sound technical and organizational support to a community seed bank and what roles network building and networking can play, for example, with the national genebank or a university/research station, and the agricultural extension services.

Topic 7: Policies and laws that influence the establishment and operations of community seed banks gives an overview of the institutional and regulatory environments that can influence a community seed bank and its viability/sustainability.

Topic 8: Viability and sustainability of a community seed bank analyzes what the key dimensions of viability and sustainability are and how they can be addressed in practice. Among others, potential value chain activities will be addressed to create income based on the crops held by the communities and (novel) products that could be made/manufactured based on them.

Seed Testing Laboratory

Topic 1: Seed Quality Assurance vs Seed Quality Control explains the distinction between ensuring consistent seed quality (Assurance) and the processes to produce high quality seeds (Control). Both are required for achieving and maintaining premium seed standards.

Topic 2: Seed Testing International Organizations introduces the major international bodies responsible for seed testing standards and their global influence, their foundational principles, guidelines, and their role in harmonizing seed quality evaluations

Topic 3: Seed Testing Methods explores the different methods utilized in seed testing, from germination tests to genetic purity assays, and explains the importance of each method in determining seed viability, vigor, purity, and health

Topic 4: Labelling standards and implications in international seed trade examines the global standards for seed labeling and their implications for international trade, and explains how proper labeling can influence trade compliance, customer trust, and traceability

Topic 5: Quality Management Systems and ISO/ISTA Accreditations explains the significance of adhering to Quality Management Systems (QMS) in seed labs and the benefits of ISO and ISTA accreditations, and how these standards and certifications enhance credibility, consistency, and global acceptance of seed testing results.

Establishing a community seed bank: Booklet 1 of 3

CSB Technical issues: Booklet 2 of 3

CSB Management, networking, policies and a final checklist: Booklet 3 of 3

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Key Course Manuals

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Sanaag University

CSB Module


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Sanaag University

Seed Lab Module


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Univ. of Juba

CSB Module


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University of Burao

CSB Module


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University of Burao

Seed Lab Module


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Univ. of Juba

Seed Lab Module


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Nugaal University

CSB Module


Nugaal Univerity

Seed Lab Module


Seed Lab Module


Piloting of the courses

The courses designed by the project team were also piloted to conduct a dry run of the modalities, allowing the team to identify challenges and gather feedback.

The piloting reports can be downloaded ==>


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