HarvestPlus and its partners in Nigeria have reformed the seed system by significantly reducing the time to market for newly released Iron Pearl Millet (IPM) varieties. Through strategic planning and collaboration, they have reduced the usual time by 50 percent from release to market by frontloading early generation seed (EGS) production and fostering private sector investments.

In partnership with the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), HarvestPlus began multiplying early generation seeds before the official release of the IPM varieties. This initiative resulted in the production of two metric tonnes of foundation seed. Furthermore, over 30 private sector seed companies, including Premier Seed and Hallilco, were integrated into the IPM value chain, ensuring rapid production and distribution of seeds. This collaborative approach enabled the commercialization of IPM varieties within one year, setting a precedent for future crop releases. Notably, Premier Seed produced 300 metric tonnes of certified seeds, while investments from Hallilco and Dala Foods facilitated the integration of IPM into product development.

Since the first release of vitamin A maize in Nigeria in 2012, HarvestPlus has played a crucial role in the commercialization of 18 vitamin A maize varieties. By 2023, over 100 seed companies were involved in the value chain, ensuring widespread distribution through agro-dealers and community networks. HarvestPlus divided the vitamin A maize value chain into seed and grain subsectors, focusing on robust seed production, distribution, and grain processing. To create demand, they launched farmer radio programs, extension activities, and partnered with seed companies to expand retail networks, offering incentives to smallholders. As a result, vitamin A maize seed production increased from 2,500 metric tonnes in 2019 to over 13,000 metric tonnes in 2023.

Policy advocacy by HarvestPlus, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security (FMAFS), has led to the inclusion of biofortification in over 14 national and sub-national policy documents, supporting government planning and budgeting. Although the commercialization of vitamin A cassava (VAC) has been slower compared to grains, Nigeria has released nine VAC varieties. The VAC seed system relies heavily on farmer-to-farmer dissemination to reach a broader audience.

HarvestPlus’ strategies have played a catalytic role in demonstrating effective models for reducing time to market and scaling up agricultural innovations. These efforts have significantly benefited both nutrition and income generation for farmers, showcasing a sustainable approach to agricultural development in Nigeria.