||The New Seed Initiative for Maize in Southern Africa (NSIMA) project, funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, began its operations in 2005. This project intends, over the next three years, to contribute to improving food security and livelihoods of resource-poor farm families in southern Africa through the provision of farmer-selected maize varieties with increased productivity under the stress-prone conditions typical for resource-poor farmers, and by strengthening stakeholders in the maize seed sector to work towards a more diverse and more stable seed industry that is responsive to resource poor farmers needs. The activities and outputs ofNSIMA in 2005, as related to the specific goals of the project are summarised (Table 1). The project has established multi-stakeholder National Coordinating Units (NCU's) in nine SADC countries to coordinate and stimulate maize variety and seed sector development. These NCU's approved the implementation of 40 projects with a combined funding ofUSD238 850, divided amongst on-farm variety evaluation, maize breeding, seed production and training grants to NARES. The NSIMA project also provides funds for the continued breeding work at CIMMYT-Harare, which is placing increasing emphasis on Quality Protein Maize development within the context of biotic and abiotic stress resistance and yield stability. This first year of the NSIMA project has been a transition from the successful Southern African Drought and Low Soil Fertility Project (SADLF) project. Consequently, country reports from the SADLF projects of 2004/5 are contained herein, which principally provide details of results from variety evaluations. A number of new, improved, Open Pollinated Varieties have shown better performance than existing OPV's, such as ZM42l, ZM521 and local checks, while a number of improved stress-tolerant hybrids have exhibited better characteristics and yields than local hybrid check varieties. Variety evaluation work continues with the dissemination of 182 Regional Trials to 13 countries in which 101 varieties from six sources, including 75 from CIMMYT, are to be tested in 2005/6. The challenge facing SADC is therefore the registration, production and marketing of these new varieties. A survey of SADC countries revealed that new maize varieties were released in only South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2005, of which the majority (73 out of a total of 83 varieties) were registered in South Africa. The prolificacy of new variety registrations in South Africa may be related to the highly commercialized seed market, relatively simple registration procedure and the existence of maize breeding programs in many seed companies. As a means of stimulating the release of new varieties and the development of the seed industry in SADC, NSIMA held two meetings with a focus on seed systems, while also encouraging involvement in the SADC Seed Security Network's initiatives to harmonize seed regulations in SADC. The first meeting considered the technical requirements for variety release, concentrating on the concept and definitions of "Value for Cultivation and Use" (VCU) and "Distinct, Uniform and Stable" (DUS). The second meeting, the Annual Collaborator's Meeting, brought together many stakeholders in the maize seed sector and discussed a wide-range of issues, including the use of public-private partnerships for variety dissemination, seed regulations and breeding. CIMMYT has also developed a spreadsheet programme (called SeedBook) to support the planning of the seed production process based on future market goals, which should assist small- to medium-sized seed businesses to better manage their seed productions. NSIMA is one of a number of projects in southern Africa addressing the seed constraints facing SADC farmers, but its unique feature is its multi-stakeholder focus on maize. Nevertheless, the project is conscious of the need to operate collectively and interactively with all seed-related initiatives for the advancement of agriculture in SADC. Progress in the adoption of improved varieties and technologies by small-holder farmers in SADC is possible, but will require sustained and coordinated activities in variety and technology development, demonstration and dissemination.