Blog Collaboration agreement for the dissemination of bean variety BSMN10 in Zimbabwe

Beans have a fundamental role in tackling malnutrition, as they represent an affordable source of protein and amino acids, while providing essential nutrients such as proteins, iron and zinc. Nevertheless, their inclusion in diets remains low, due to different circumstances, such as inadequate access to quality seed of climate resilience, farmer and consumer preferred varieties by farmers which result into low production and productivity, limited access to profitable grain market by small holders, among others.

Despite the release of hundreds of bean varieties, inclusive access to quality bean seed remains a major challenge due to inadequate capacity to produce and market bean seed by public seed enterprises (major seed sources). Historically, private sector (seed companies) doesn’t invest in bean breeding and commercialization, due to its limited profitability compared to other crops such as hybrid maize and vegetables. The only source of improved bean varieties is the public sector breeding (including the Alliance despite being an international organization), making it difficult to reach emerging interested small sized companies and subsequently small holder farmers, particularly women.

The Alliance developed bean variety BSMN10, which is climate resilience, farmer and consumer preferred with essential nutrients. The Alliance, as a R&D organization, does not have the capacity to reproduce and disseminate the bean variety, to make it available to its target beneficiaries: smallholder farmers in developing countries. Therefore, the Alliance and Seed Co celebrated a 5-year collaboration agreement, so the bean variety BSMN10 is disseminated and made accessible to small and mid-sized farmers in Zimbabwe and if possible other countries, in alignment with the Alliance’s and CGIAR’s management of intellectual assets principles and policies.

As part of the agreement, the Alliance granted Seed Co a license for the production and commercialization of the Alliance’s bean variety BSMN10, for its dissemination to small and mid-sized farmers in Zimbabwe. While the main purpose of the collaboration is the dissemination of the bean variety, it also serves to empower and stimulate private seed companies to invest in beans production and marketing and expand the access to the small holder farmers, while providing opportunities to local seed sellers. In this sense, the agreement will contribute to the small holders’ productivity, while increasing high quality local bean grain trade and inclusive businesses.

The multiplication and commercialization of the seeds will be made directly by Seed Co. The seeds will be commercialized through Seed Co’s rural and town distribution networks of agri-input shops in Zimbabwe (initially). Moreover, Seed Co shall use distributors and packaging that ensure the seed accessibility and availability in Zimbabwe by small and mid-sized farmers. In the case of the packages, Seed Co shall commercialize the seeds in a manner (size) and quantity that ensures that they may be acquired by small and mid-sized farmers.

The agreement contains a Research Exemption. The Alliance reserved the right to conduct research and non-commercial activities in Zimbabwe. In addition, in case of a Food Emergency, Seed Co will make the seed available in such quantities as reasonably required to cover the food emergency for the period of the emergency (Food Emergency Exemption). Moreover, the commercialization is subject to monetary benefit sharing towards the International Fund of the ITPGRFA (Plant Treaty).