ArticlePDF Available

Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa: A Basis for Seed Policy and Law


Abstract and Figures

Seed policies primarily concentrate on the formal seed system, which supplies Sub-Saharan African countries less than 20% of the total seed demand and involves only a limited number of crops and varieties. Seed laws, and the mechanisms and organizations involved in their implementation, are developed with varying degrees of success. We address the limitations of applying a linear model to seed sector development and introduce integrated seed sector development (ISSD). We assess seed systems in Ethiopia, Mali, and Zambia, and demonstrate that one single model cannot address the variations in realities within one country or the continent. ISSD provides opportunities for taking a pluralistic approach in strengthening multiple seed systems, and has the potential to combine objectives targeting food security, agricultural development, promoting entrepreneurship, and contributing to biodiversity management. We elaborate pathways for ISSD-guided policies that include variety release, seed quality management, and plant breeders’ rights.
Content may be subject to copyright.
This article was downloaded by: [Walter Simon De Boef]
On: 05 April 2013, At: 10:35
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Journal of Crop Improvement
Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
Integrated Seed Sector Development
in Africa: A Conceptual Framework for
Creating Coherence Between Practices,
Programs, and Policies
Niels P. Louwaars
& Walter Simon de Boef
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Centre for Genetic
Resources, The Netherlands, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Wageningen University, Department of Law and Governance,
Wageningen, The Netherlands
Federal University of Santa Catarina, Centre for Agricultural
Sciences, Florianópolis, Brazil
Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands,
Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen, The Netherlands
To cite this article: Niels P. Louwaars & Walter Simon de Boef (2012): Integrated Seed Sector
Development in Africa: A Conceptual Framework for Creating Coherence Between Practices,
Programs, and Policies, Journal of Crop Improvement, 26:1, 39-59
To link to this article:
Full terms and conditions of use:
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.
The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation
that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any
instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary
sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,
demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or
indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
Journal of Crop Improvement, 26:39–59, 2012
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1542-7528 print/1542-7536 online
DOI: 10.1080/15427528.2011.611277
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa:
A Conceptual Framework for Cr eating
Coherence Between Practices, Programs,
and Policies
Wageningen University and Research Centr e, Centre for Genetic Resources, The Netherlands,
Wageningen, The Netherlands
Wageningen University, Department of Law and Governance, Wageningen,
The Netherlands
Federal University of Santa Catarina, Centre for Agricultural Sciences, Florianópolis, Brazil
Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands, Centre for Development
Innovation, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Public sector seed programs in most sub-Saharan African countries
targeted the dissemination of quality seed of improved varieties in
the 1970 and ’80s, assuming that the informal seed system would
disappear. The orientation in 1990s shifted toward withdrawal of
the public sector, promoting privatization and liberalization of
the seed market. The informal seed system remained dominant.
Integrated seed sector development aims to better link informal and
Received 11 July 2011; accepted 3 August 2011.
This paper is a partial result of the authors’ facilitation and coordination of the Integrated
Seed Sector Development in Africa Project (ISSD Africa), which was implemented by
Wageningen University and Research Centre (Wageningen UR) in collaboration with the
Commission of the African Union, in the context of the African Seed and Biotechnology
Program (ASBP), and with partners in Ethiopia, Mali, Malawi, South Sudan, Uganda, and
Zambia. The ISSD Africa project was implemented by the Wageningen UR /Centre for
Development Innovation. The project was financed by the Netherlands Ministry for Economic
Affairs, Agriculture, and Innovation (EL&I). Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein
are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the EL&I, ASBP, or our
partners in the ISSD project. We would like to thank participants of the various national and
regional workshops that were organized during the ISSD Africa project for their contribu-
tions. Furthermore, we would like to recognize the roles played by a diversity of players in
the seed sector, with whom we have been engaged in seed sector development over the past
few decades. Our partnership with them has assisted us in the compilation of this paper.
Address correspondence to Walter Simon de Boef at Federal University of Santa Catarina,
Centre for Agricultural Sciences, Florianópolis-SC, Rodovia Admar Gonzaga, 1346, Itacorubi,
Florianópolis SC, Brazil. E-mail:
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
40 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
formal seed systems, and balance public and private sector involve-
ment. It explores variation among seed value chains, with the aim
of making seed programs and policies more coherent with farmers’
practices and more effective at reaching food security.
KEYWORDS Sub-Saharan Africa, seed systems, food security,
integrated approaches
Seed and other planting materials form the basis of crop production. Key
issues in analyzing the contribution of seed to agricultural output are avail-
ability, quantity, quality, and affordability, which means physical access to
the right seed at the right time for the right price. Throughout the world, it
is the farmers themselves who produce the largest quantity of seed of most
crops. This farm-saved seed is used for both locally and scientifically bred
The public sector supports seed sectors in different ways, notably by
carrying out research in breeding and developing varieties; by arranging
(and subsidizing) seed quality controls or seed promotion; and by protecting
breeders’ rights. The public sector can also stimulate investments in the seed
sector by introducing tax measures and by subsidizing certain seed prod-
ucts. Furthermore, the public sector may participate, directly or indirectly,
in the production and distribution of seed for crops considered essential for
national food security.
To a large extent, the quality of seed determines the success of crops
in terms of yield (and yield stability) and product quality, and thus its con-
tribution to food security and the value of crop products in the market. The
quality of seed has several aspects: its genetic properties, i.e., the inher-
ent genetic makeup of the variety, and the germination rate, seed health,
and purity of the seed. This genetic diversity provides options to cope with
adverse conditions and risks, whether seasonal, short term, or related to
climate change in the long term.
There are a number of diverse initiatives for increasing the availability
and quality of seed in Africa, including those that aim to:
Strengthen the public functions of seed quality control and varietal
Support multinational, commercial seed companies for producing and
trading their seed;
Strengthen national or local entrepreneurship in the seed sector;
Provide support to farmers for producing better quality seed; and
Supply seed as part of emergency supplies.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 41
This diversity of interventions responds to variations in demands, crops, and
settings that characterize agricultural development.
Seed sector development gains attention when seed security and food
security are linked together with agricultural economic development in sub-
Saharan Africa. Good-quality seed is essential for any food production; it is
also a technology transfer agent crucial for increasing productivity and pro-
duction. Furthermore, seed is a potential commodity for stimulating local and
national economic development and entrepreneurship, and is an important
component of agricultural biodiversity. A diversity of practices and realities
exist in seed sector development. Many of these practices have been cre-
ated based on a linear approach to seed sector development, thus with the
assumption that one particular seed sector or system exists. These prac-
tices have been supporting the public seed sector since the 1970s and
primarily the private seed sector since the 1990s. Likewise, seed policies
have been designed and implemented within such a linear approach. These
have resulted in seed programs that are incoherent with the practices and
variations that exist in agriculture in Africa.
As a r esult of the increasing global interest in agriculture, in a context
of rising food prices and concerns about food security and climate change
adaptation, seed sector development in Africa has regained the attention
of governments, donor communities, civil society, and other stakeholders.
At local level, farmers and entrepreneurs seek opportunities in the seed mar-
ket. Within this context, this paper elaborates the concept of i ntegrated seed
sector development (ISSD), initially formulated as way to integrate formal
seed systems and farmers’ seed systems at the technical (Louwaars 1996a)
and institutional levels (Louwaars 1996b; De Boef, Louwaars, & Almekinders
1997). Subsequently, the seed system perspective has been used for on-farm
management of genetic resources (Jarvis et al. 2004; De Boef et al. 2010;
Jarvis et al. 2011), participatory plant breeding (Almekinders, Thiele, &
Danial 2007), and seed security and support of on-farm seed production
(Almekinders & Louwaars 1999; Latournerie-Moreno et al. 2006). The institu-
tional bottlenecks that hamper the implementation of on-farm management
of genetic resources have been recognized and have led to the inclusion
of integrated seed systems in the debate on seed and variety legislation
(Tripp 1997; Louwaars, 2002; Louwaars, 2007; Bragdon et al. 2009).
The objective of the current paper is to outline ISSD as a useful con-
ceptual framework for creating coherence among seed practices, programs,
and policies. The focus of this paper is on sub-Saharan Africa; it addresses
the variation in agriculture and practices in seed sector development and
characterizes informal and formal seed systems, emphasizing their structure
and limitations. The facilitation of interactions between the two seed sys-
tems is considered the first ISSD principle. Subsequently, the differentiation
between development and market-oriented seed value chains is addressed
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
42 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
as a basis for a line of reasoning that no single public-, private-, community-,
or NGO-based intervention can support seed sector development. The indi-
vidual farmers themselves use different seed systems for different crops, such
as (international) commercial seed for exotic vegetables; seed from national
commercial chains based on international or public research for maize; local
semi-commercial sources for groundnut seed produced for the city market;
and farm-saved seed for mainly home-consumed crops like sorghum, finger
millet, and beans. This leads to the second ISSD principle, which is that seed
sector development needs to be approached in a pluralistic manner, includ-
ing public, private, community-based, or NGO stakeholders, each of them
assuming specific responsibilities in dissimilar seed value chains. In con-
clusion, the paper underlines the key principles for ISSD and shares some
final remarks.
Farming and cropping systems vary along agro-ecologies. They also vary
in their objectives for agriculture: livelihood, food supply, and/or income
generation. This variation defines the structure of the seed system. The
diversity in seed systems is also associated with the type of farmers, sub-
sistence or commercial, or any variation in-between. Another differentiation
in seed systems is associated with the crops, whether these are food or
feed crops produced for home consumption and/or the market (cereals,
pulses, vegetables) or produced as cash crops within a specific value chain
(oil crops, vegetables, tobacco, cotton). The system of reproduction has a
major effect on the structure of seed systems, and the variation becomes
evident when comparing selfing cereal and pulse crops with hybrid maize
varieties, and vegetatively reproduced crops such as potato, cassava, and
banana. Another key element is the orientation of the seed sector, which
is organized either according to the principles of agricultural development
(food security), the principles of the market (profit), or a mixture of these.
These variations have great implications on the structure of seed value
chains. A diversity of organizations operate in seed supply, varying from
public and private organizations to NGOs, farmers’ cooperatives, and infor-
mal farmers’ groups. The objectives and opportunities determine to a large
extent which of these stakeholders take the lead and which cooperate
in these seed systems. In return, the mixture of stakeholders has impli-
cations for the type of programs and policies that aim to strengthen the
seed sector.
Given the different functions of seed in food security, entrepreneurship,
technology transfer, and biodiversity, the objective for supporting seed sector
development is not solely embedded in policies that target each of those four
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 43
areas of attention. The multiple objectives create a complexity in which no
single strategy for agricultural development, and therefore seed sector devel-
opment, exists. ISSD as a concept embraces these multiple objectives and
this complexity. It uses a system approach to better understand complexity
and, consequently, applying a value chain approach identifies different seed
systems that operate in parallel, in a dynamic model. These sectors are char-
acterized as the basis for the development of programs and policies aimed
at vibrant and pluralistic seed sector development.
The first distinction can be made between the formal and informal sys-
tems. Informal seed systems cover methods of seed selection, production,
and diffusion by farmers, including the exchange of seed. Farmers obtain
seed and varieties through informal networks based on exchange with, or
gifts from, relatives and neighbors, or through bartering with other far m-
ers or purchasing from local markets. Key issues in determining the use of
seed by farmers are availability, quantity and quality, and price. Seed has
to be available, which means that there has to be physical access to the
right quantity of seed of the right variety at the right time, and it needs to
be affordable. Farm-saved seed is the most prominent source since farmers
are familiar with the seed they grow themselves and know that the variety
is adapted to local conditions and preferences. Infor mal seed systems are
also referred to as farmer-managed seed systems (Bal & Douglas 1992), tra-
ditional seed systems (Cromwell, Friss-Hansen, & Turner 1992), and local
seed systems (Almekinders, Louwaars, & de Bruijn 1994). We refer to the
informal seed system as to distinguish it from the formal system; it is illus-
trated in Figure 1 (Almekinders, Louwaars, & de Bruijn 1994; Almekinders &
Louwaars 1999; Thijssen et al. 2008; Dalton et al. 2010).
The informal seed system has several limitations (Louwaars 2007). The
most common one is the assumption that seed is usually readily available in
informal systems. In such situations, farmers are not well prepared when fac-
ing shortages. Such shortages can be acute, for example, owing to drought or
civil unrest, or chronic, basically as a result of poverty and because farmers
are unable to put seed aside from the harvest as a result of low productivity
(Sperling, Cooper, & Remmington 2008; Lipper, Anderson, & Dalton 2010).
seed selection
FIGURE 1 Informal Seed System.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
44 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
The consequential dependence on seed relief may lead to loss of genetic
resources (Richards, Ruivenkamp, & van der Drift 1997; Sperling, Osborn, &
Cooper 2004).
The fact that seed supply of major crops is anti-cyclical when compared
to crop production creates another serious limitation to the performance of
informal systems. Plenty of seed is available after a highly productive season
and, consequently, seed demand is low. This is because most farmers have
been able to combine saving seed with their consumption needs. However,
seed availability after a poor season is inadequate not only for the individual
farmers who rely on farm-saved seed, but also for their social networks.
Seed shortages may occur when contacts with communities in areas that
have experienced better cropping conditions during a previous season are
limited, and farmers may have to rely on poor-quality planting materials,
such as food grain obtained in the market and whose varietal characteristics
and seed quality are unknown (David, Mukandala, & Mafure 2002; Louwaars
2007; McGuire 2008).
The seed of some crops is more easily produced than that of others.
Germination capacity and vigor are at stake during processing and stor-
age (e.g., soybean in the humid tropics). Diseases can be transmitted by
seeds and may also build up over time (e.g., beans). Varieties may “degener-
ate” because of insufficient or inadequate selection (notably cross-fertilizing
crops like mustard, maize, and sunflower). The ability of farmers to produce
quality seed may be limited by such factors.
Farmers tend to possess good knowledge of their major crops, and
selection is likely to be more precise and intense for those crops than for
others. The availability of modern varieties of crops may trigger a wider use
of variation and a stronger interest in selection by farmers. In several cases,
this practice has led to the development of “new farmers’ varieties” that
can be fairly uniform and well adapted to advanced mono-crop production
(Almekinders & Louwaars 1999; Salazar, Louwaars, & Visser 2007).
The improvement and adaptation of crops, in times of changing farming
conditions, will continue to be slow as long as farmers’ selection depends
on natural ways to create diversity. Adaptation may be necessary, for exam-
ple, to contend with a gradual decrease in soil fertility or the presence of
new diseases or strains of diseases; to meet the needs of farming systems
in the process of change because of expanding population; to deal with the
introduction of new technologies or radical changes in food and agricul-
tural markets; or to cope with climate change. Many of these changes are
substantial and can neither easily be met by existing genetic diversity, nor
by farmers’ capacity to select and exchange materials. However, movement
of materials that have the potential to cope with change has been widely
reported, although these movements within informal systems and associated
exchange mechanisms and markets remain limited (Louwaars 2007; Lipper,
Anderson, & Dalton 2010).
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 45
Despite the extensive local knowledge base of those communities that
depend on their own varieties and seed, the knowledge system and prac-
tices associated with the informal seed system maintains a certain lack of
awareness. This lack of awareness often relates to diseases or processing
and storage practices, but also to the maintenance of varieties. Interestingly,
with regards to this last point, there are also contradictory examples of situ-
ations where farmers have an insightful understanding of crop reproduction
systems, as can be seen in the case of sorghum in Cameroon (Alvarez et al.
2005), maize in Mexico (Louette, Charrier, & Berthaud 1997), and cassava in
Brazil (Emperaire & Peroni 2007).
Despite the limitations that informal seed systems exhibit, their advan-
tages are significant both in developing and industrialized countries. In those
countries that are agriculturally advanced, there is widespread recognition
that “good farmers can produce good seed for themselves and their neigh-
bors” (CGN 2007). An estimated 80% of all seed used in Africa is produced in
the informal systems (Byerlee et al. 2007), and for many crops the estimate
is closer to 100%, which means that informal seed supply is the main source
of seed for most crops and farmers in developing countries, and is likely
to remain so for the foreseeable future (FAO 2010). Therefore it deserves
recognition by, and the attention of, scientists, development partners, and
policy makers.
The formal seed system provides tested seed of uniform varieties that have
been evaluated for their adaptation to certain farming systems. The structure
of the formal seed system is guided by scientific methodologies for plant
breeding and controlled multiplication operated by public or private sector
specialists. Significant investments have been made throughout the devel-
oping world to improve varieties and to produce and promote quality seed
for some major food crops. The formal system is illustrated in a simplified
format in Figure 2.
Within the formal seed system, commercial seed production and mar-
keting is only possible for a limited number of crops. The private sector
concentrates on hybrids (notably maize) and high-value horticultural crops
that can guarantee that all the overheads, including transportation and
quality-management costs, will be covered, and that can offer some profit.
Profit margins on self-fertilizing crops like most cereals and legumes are
generally low due to competition with farm-saved seed. In some countries
(e.g., Brazil, India), commercial companies produce such crops when they
can generate enough profits from large quantities or when supplying large
commercial farmers only. The private sector generally operates at country-
wide and international levels, and involves cash transactions and a profit
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
46 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
genetic resources
FIGURE 2 Formal Seed System.
orientation that results in the production of large quantities of seed and the
marketing of just a few varieties with wide adaptation.
The public sector supports seed systems in different ways, notably by
conducting research in breeding, by carrying out varietal development, by
organizing (and subsidizing) seed quality control, or by promoting qual-
ity seed and improved varieties. Policy and legal frameworks facilitate
investment in breeding and seed production, providing access to plant
genetic resources, protecting breeders’ rights, and ensuring seed quality con-
trol. The frameworks may follow international standardization and regional
harmonization of methodologies that address genetic resource access, intel-
lectual property rights, varietal release, seed certification, and phytosanitary
measures for import and export.
The limitations of the formal seed system can be seen at the level of the
individual components in the chain and in terms of the connections between
the components. Consequently, formal seed chains, as with any value chain,
are as strong as their weakest link. A formal seed chain where the breeding
component is weak has “nothing to sell” that farmers do not already have
and tends to lose impact, since many farmers purchase seed primarily to
access new varieties. Similarly, the chain will break when seed production is
poorly organized and seed quality is low, or when the delivery system fails
and seed does not reach the farmers in the right quality and quantity at the
right time and price (Gregg & Van Gastel 1997). In such situations, “farm-
saved seed” of the informal system outperforms, or is more competitive
than, “formal” seed. The interdependence of the dif ferent components is a
challenge for the organization of formal seed chains (Louwaars 2007).
Despite the prominent assumption in the 1970s and 1980s that local varieties
would rapidly and completely be replaced by modern varieties (Frankel &
Soulé 1981), informal seed systems, with their traditional and local varieties,
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 47
have remained vital for many major crops in the developing world. For
food crops, adoption of modern varieties varies. Over the past decades, the
area planted with modern varieties of maize has increased significantly in
sub-Saharan Africa. In 2006, modern maize varieties (including both hybrids
and open-pollinated varieties) covered 33% of the area in Eastern Africa and
38% in Southern Africa, excluding South Africa (Mason et al. 2011), and
it reached 60% in 2005 in Wester n Africa (Alene et al. 2009). In the early
2000s, adoption rates for modern varieties reached up to 60% for wheat and
40%–50% for rice (Evenson & Gollin 2003). Variety replacement for those
major (non-African) food crops is estimated 40%, while variety replacement
of food crops such as sorghum stays as low as 10% (Byerlee et al. 2007).
It is evident that the situation for maize is different than for other crops.
Modern variety adoption and yearly purchase of formal quality seed of maize
hybrids has increased through an emerging commercial maize seed sector
(Kenya), public maize dissemination systems (Ethiopia), a strong associa-
tion between NGOs and private companies in seed marketing (Ghana), and
public subsidized input programs (Malawi, Zambia) (Scoones & Thompson
2011). The increase is the result of major initiatives that foster market-led
technology adoption (Toennissen, Adesina, & Devries 2008). The “maize
model” boosts technology use and is enforced by favorable institutional and
policy frameworks. International donor and philanthropic programs have
promoted market-oriented seed sector development. In several countries
(Malawi, Zambia), the maize model is embedded in national subsidized input
programs targeting national food security and enterprise development; how-
ever, in both countries these programs take a major share of the government
budget available for agriculture (Chinsanga 2011; Nakaponda 2011), which
indicates limited sustainability. Smale, Byerlee, and Jayne (2011) and Scoones
and Thompson (2011) question whether the maize model is economically
viable and institutionally sustainable, and point out that it is not applicable
to other seed systems or food crops. Alternative approaches are required, for
example, upgrading or strengthening ‘fragile’ public breeding and seed sys-
tems (Scoones & Thompson, 2011), supporting local seed business (Thijssen
et al. 2008; Neate & Guei 2011), and strengthening national seed companies
(MacRobert 2009; O’Connor Funk 2009). The primary focus on maize is an
illustration of the limited picture dominant in seed sector development, vari-
etal replacement, and adoption of modern varieties in sub-Saharan Africa; it
only addresses part of a much more robust reality of food and seed markets
(Lipper, Anderson, & Dalton 2010; Sperling & McGuire 2010).
Variety replacement is not a sole indicator for the performance of the for-
mal and infor mal seed systems. More than 80% of the seed planted by
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
48 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
African farmers remains to originate from informal systems (African Union
2008; Byerlee et al. 2007). Farmers to a large degree rely on informal seed
sources, independent of whether they cultivate local or modern varieties.
Despite all investments in technology, dissemination, and marketing sys-
tems, the continued importance of informal seed systems in any region
or production system is by a large degree defined by the fact that most
small-scale, poor farmers operate in complex, risk-prone, and diverse envi-
ronments. Poor farmers in those environments are difficult to cater to in
formal research and technology development systems (Chambers, Pacey, &
Thrupp 1989; Pretty 1995). Local varieties from informal sources do remain
to meet the needs of many farmers and communities (Jarvis et al. 2011).
Farmers continue to use farm-saved seed of both local and modern varieties
for a number of reasons (Lipton & Longhurst 1989; Tripp 2001; De Boef
et al. 2010; Lipper, Anderson, & Dalton 2010); those most frequently stated
include: (i) inadequate access to markets; (ii) the structure and functioning
of market channels often unfavorable to those farmers living in remote areas;
(iii) limited access to financial resources or credit to buy or produce seed;
(iv) the limited effectiveness of the formal system in providing timely and
adequate access to quality seed of improved varieties; and (v) the lack of
interest or capacity of the research system for developing genotypes that are
specifically adapted to their production environment, owing to economic
and organizational considerations.
The structure of the formal seed system and its organization through
existing policy and regulatory frameworks widely ignore, and to some extent
undermine, the value of the informal systems. They can even result in a
distortion or dismantling of such traditional and often valuable systems. The
methodologies for seed regulation frequently result in barriers for potential
interactions between the formal and the informal systems, other than those
at the stage of germplasm collection and the commercialization of varieties
(Tripp 1997; Louwaars, 2007; Jarvis et al. 2011).
One of the fundamental principles of the integrated seed sector development
(ISSD) concept is the need to develop a twin track approach where the
effectiveness of both the informal and formal seed systems can be improved
through a concerted effort ensuring that proper integration is promoted at
every component of the seed value chain. The seed value chain between the
formal system (genebanks, breeding, multiplication, and marketing) with the
informal system is promoted. The integration between formal and informal
seed systems in the conventional setting is visualized in Figure 3.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 49
seed selection
genetic resources
FIGURE 3 Linkages Between Formal and Informal Seed Systems in the Conventional Setting.
Note: Dashed arrows visualize interactions between the formal and informal seed systems.
The interactions between the formal and informal systems can be
characterized as follows:
Conservation and development organizations recognize community bio-
diversity as a means to contribute to in situ conservation and on-farm
management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and
to enhance the resilience of farming systems (Sthapit et al. 2008; Jarvis
et al. 2011). These types of interactions foster the use of local and
traditional varieties, and thereby may result in strengthening the infor-
mal seed system (De Boef et al. 2010). However, they may also result
in the use of local varieties in participatory plant breeding by identi-
fying the criteria and materials for breeding programs as illustrated in
Andean countries (Almekinders, Thiele, & Danial 2007) and at a global
level (Ceccarelli, Guimarães, & Weltzien 2009), improvement of local vari-
eties in response to market opportunities such as illustrated in Nepal
(Gyawali et al. 2010), or promotion of local varieties in local seed busi-
ness development as illustrated in Ethiopia (Abay, de Boef, & Bjørnstad
An increasing number of international and national breeding programs
involve farmers in various stages of the breeding cycle (Witcombe et al.
1996; Almekinders & Elings 2001; Ceccarelli, Guimarães, & Weltzien 2009),
with further implications for varietal release (Witcombe & Virk 1997),
as well as for production and marketing of seed of varieties (Bishaw &
Turner, 2007; Aw-Hassan, Mazid, & Salahieh 2008) and structure of formal
and informal seed value chains (Almekinders, Thiele, & Danial 2007).
Farmer participation in release committees and the inclusion of
participatory varietal selection in variety testing procedures are examples
of further integration at the level of variety release (Almekinders & Elings
2001; Louwaars 2002; Witcombe & Virk 1997).
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
50 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
seed selection
genetic resources
Agro-dealers and
networks, and
voucher systems
Local seed business
Specialized units or
producer groups
for early
generation seed
Participatory varietal
selection and farmer
Participatory plant
FIGURE 4 Integration Between Formal and Informal Seed Systems in an Integrated Setting
Including Examples.
Note: Dashed arrows visualize linkages between the formal and informal seed systems, each further
elaborated by examples.
Enhanced technical knowledge can improve on-farm storage of seed
(Almekinders & Louwaars 1999; Latournerie-Moreno et al. 2006).
Farmers are increasingly recognized as strategic partners for reaching seed
security and an increasing number of farmers buy commercial seed of their
food crops from emerging small-scale seed enterprises. As such, farmers
are supported in commercial seed production and marketing (MacRobert
2009; De Boef & Thijssen 2010; Neate & Guei 2011), with implications for
the structure of the seed value chain, for example, addressing the supply
of early-generation seed, seed quality-control mechanisms and structure of
seed marketing promotion programs driven by the government, donors,
or NGOs (African Union 2011).
The role of agro-dealers and marketing networks is increasingly being
recognized in seed sector development, thereby enforcing market forces
for dissemination at a local level (MacRobert 2009). Voucher systems can
be instrumental in transformation from relief to market-orientated system
of seed and variety dissemination (Longley 2006).
Figure 4 outlines interactions between formal and informal seed systems and
provides some examples.
In the 1970s, in the context of the Green Revolution and its transfer of
technology paradigm, formal seed systems were promoted in order to boost
agricultural production and productivity. The Green Revolution is not merely
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 51
based on the availability of quality seed of modern varieties; rather it could
only became successful when technology introduction was embedded in
a broader programme investing in agricultural infrastructure and farmers’
capacities in entrepreneurship, and enabling policies for input and output
prices. In sub-Saharan Africa, as with the rest of the developing world,
the orientation of the formal system originally was primarily public. The
justification for public investment was that seed was regarded as a cru-
cial agent for technology transfer, ensuring farmers would benefit from
one of the major technologies becoming available: high-yielding varieties.
Consequently, quality seed of such varieties was produced and distributed
to farmers. The Seed Industry Development Programme, led by the Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, assisted many countries
in setting up seed farms, contract grower schemes, and seed conditioning
and processing plants for their major food crop seed (Feistritzer 1984).
The Green Revolution, with its initial focus on development, stimulated
the building of centralized seed production units in many countries as pub-
lic institutions or state enterprises. Their structure was along the lines of
the successful private seed industries of Europe and North America. Formal
seed systems subsequently developed specialized in-house and, later, inde-
pendent seed quality-control institutions to create quality awareness among
both seed producers and customers, and to safeguard the interests of farm-
ers. These were also similar to the official seed certification agencies in
North America and Europe. However, a crucial difference between private
seed industry in the north and the public seed systems in sub-Saharan
Africa was that the seed value chain in the latter was development ori-
ented rather than profit oriented; seed was primarily distributed and not
marketed. Varieties were developed within (international) public institutions,
released through public research institutions, and then seed was produced
and disseminated through public (extension) organizations. Consequently,
the breeding component was driving the chain (see Figure 5, left-hand side).
In the 1980s and 1990s, however, seed policies followed the general
economic trends of structural adjustment, which forced the transformation
of public seed units into private or public market and profit-oriented seed
enterprises. Such private orientation r esulted in a shift in focus toward just a
few commercially interesting crops and a more exclusive client base, notably
(hybrid) maize seed for commercial farmers. The private-sector interest in
the maize seed and breeding sector has shown major weaknesses in pub-
lic research and seed systems (Setimela et al. 2009). Remaining and often
weakened public breeding programs that are responsible for other major
food (non-maize) crops are unable to disseminate their varieties to farm-
ers upon release. The seed value chain for major food crops (other cereals,
pulses, and oil crops) lacks the seed production component, as shown in
Figure 5 (right-hand side). In many cases, NGOs began operating in this vac-
uum; in other cases, research centers chose to work directly with farmers in
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
52 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
Green Revolution
Seed is a technology
transfer agent
Government should
provide farmers with
improved seed
Investment in
infrastructure and
Structural adjustment
Withdrawal of public
Privatization of seed
Seed production of
commercial crops
Varieties remain on
shelves of public
breeding institutes
FIGURE 5 The Effect of Structural Adjustment on the Development-Oriented Seed Value
disseminating their varieties. Emerging small-scale seed enterprises, or local
seed businesses, aim to fill this gap in the seed value chain for many food
crops (Thijssen et al. 2008; De Boef & Thijssen 2010; De Boef et al. 2010;
Neate & Guei 2011).
The transformation from development to market orientation proved
much more difficult than expected, largely because of the shift in “driver”
needed for such a transition. In development-oriented seed chains, as high-
lighted above, it is the breeding component that drives the chain. Seed
production and marketing are necessary to take new varieties to as many
farmers as possible. In commercial seed systems, the marketing component
takes primary lead in the chain (MacRobert 2009; O’Connor Funk 2009).
Even though the basic components are the same (breeding, seed production,
marketing), developmental and commercial seed systems are fundamen-
tally different, as illustrated in Figure 6. Insufficient appreciation of this
difference is an important reason for the fact that many attempts to com-
mercialize the public seed production infrastructure have failed (Louwaars
2007). Consequently, plural pathways to (Scoones & Thompson 2011) or
integrated approaches for seed sector development are advocated that cre-
ate room for both development and market orientation, and thereby create
space for multiple approaches better matching the multiple seed systems,
instead of one single approach built primarily on the “maize model” (Smale,
Byerlee, & Jayne 2011).
The second ISSD principle is to accept and work with both public-
(development) and private-oriented (market) seed chains, ensuring that the
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 53
Development and
food security = drivers
Market and profit =
Food security
Farmer saved
Vegetatively propagated
Low multiplication factor
High value and market
(flowers, exotic
No competition of
farmer saved seed
Seed quality complex
to maintain
FIGURE 6 Development Versus Market Orientation of the Seed Value Chain.
comparative advantages and interactions of each are used to their full advan-
tage for achieving an integrated seed sector, thereby contributing to the
overarching objectives of food security, economic development, the pro-
motion of agricultural entrepreneurship, and biodiversity conservation and
use. The development- and market-oriented chains are the same; however,
flows of information and decision-making processes are distinctively differ-
ent. In addition, while the public system focuses on seed production to meet
national targets, private production is based on sales figures and predictions.
Figure 6 shows the clear distinction between the types of crops promoted by
the public system (major food crops) and the private system, which focuses
on profitable seed products (high value crops, hybrids). The ISSD princi-
ple is to accept that each chain has to play an important role in seed sector
development, i.e. instead of taking a linear approach (Douglas 1980) adopt a
pluralistic approach and promote complementary seed sector development
pathways in response to the variation, as is characteristic of agriculture in
Africa (De Boef et al. 2010).
In an ISSD framework, different types of entrepreneurship can be
supported. It avoids making a priori choices for any type of seed value
Large-scale seed companies, which operate internationally, promote the
most commercial crops by providing their varieties and their business
skills, including the development of distribution channels. These compa-
nies mainly deal with just a few commercial crops (hybrids, vegetables,
and GMOs) and target customers who are farmers that can manage
their environmental variation well through the use of mechanical land
preparation, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
54 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
Seed companies that o perate nationally target highly commercialized and
medium-level farmers as primary customers, initially by providing good
seed of varieties bred by the public research system, possibly with some
level of exclusivity. Their product range includes some food and indus-
trial crops. These companies may be privatized public enterprises or seed
companies established by local investors.
Local seed businesses, developed by advanced farmers or farmers’ groups,
emerge at different levels of proficiency, bridging the divide between
advanced informal and emerging formal. These farmers’ groups may ini-
tially produce seed for their own use or for larger enterprises as contract
farmers, or they may develop their own seed marketing organization.
Because of lower overheads and transport costs, such local seed busi-
nesses are able to provide farmers with a broad range of seed products
that would not be profitable enough for larger companies.
Finally, agro-industries, such as oil mills, breweries, cotton ginneries,
and flower traders, interfere and, in most cases, control seed business
in order to make sure that their main operations are fed with the right
type of produce. This kind of involvement develops into rather closed-
value, chain-based seed operations that focus on the producers supplying
the chain.
All these different types of seed entrepreneurship can contribute to
providing the total amount of seed needed in the country, and public policy
needs to find ways to support and regulate them based on their needs and
The final consideration of the ISSD concept is to understand and define the
systems in each country, or specific area, using the following guidelines:
Recognize the existence and consequent relevance of the informal seed
Facilitate the integration of informal and formal seed systems.
Endorse and support a pluralistic approach to seed sector development
involving private and public systems and civil society, and create room
for a diversity of international, national, and local seed businesses to
contribute their strengths and operate in their specific niches.
Recognize the driving forces as being food security, economic devel-
opment, promotion of agricultural entrepreneurship, and biodiversity
Define a range of seed systems and structure them for the seed value
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 55
Design programs built upon a variation of seed systems.
Design enabling policies that foster pluralistic approaches in seed sys-
tems evolving in response to the dynamic nature of seed sectors in
ISSD provides an integrated view of the roles of seed in agricultural
development in the widest sense. It avoids blueprint solutions and simplistic
one-directional ideas about what an ideal seed sector should look like and
how to achieve it. Such linear approaches have been dominating seed poli-
cies and programs for the last 50 years. ISSD basically provides a framework
in which countries can fit in their own particular situations and into which
evolving developments can be fitted. As such it also provides guidance to
development partners in public, private, and civil society to identify gaps
and opportunities for strengthening the diversity of seed systems in parallel.
ISSD can help circumvent clashes between those who promote the devel-
opment of the international private system, those who focus on promoting
local-level seed entrepreneurship, and those who focus their efforts on pro-
moting agro-biodiversity to enhance resilience. ISSD-based seed policies
allow governments to channel their investments and those of their partners,
and provide a basis for regulatory frameworks that support diversified seed
systems in their country, notably through seed laws, breeders’ rights, and
biodiversity laws, and within each create several options for implementation.
In this way, the ISSD concept provides an important basis for the African
Seed and Biotechnology Program, headed by the African Union (2008; 2011),
by promoting coherence among practices, programs, and policies for seed
sector development at a continental level.
Abay, A., W. S. de Boef and Å. Bjørnstad. 2011. Network analysis of barley seed
flows in Tigray, Ethiopia: supporting the design of strategies that contribute
to on-farm management of plant genetic resources. Plant Genet. Res. doi:
African Union. 2008. African seed and biotechnology programme. Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia: African Union.
African Union. 2011. Communiqué on integrated seed sector development. Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia: African Union.
Alene, A. D., A. Menkir, S. O. Ajala, B. Badu-Apraku, A. S., Alanrewaju,
V. M. Manyong and A. Ndiaye. 2009. The economic and poverty impacts of
maize researcher in West and Central Africa. Agric. Econ. 40:535–550.
Almekinders, C. J. M., and A. Elings. 2001. Collaboration of farmers and breeders:
participatory crop improvement in perspective. Euphytica 122:425–438.
Almekinders, C. J. M., and N. P. Louwaars. 1999. Farmers’ seed production: New
approaches and practices. London, UK: Intermediate Technology.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
56 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
Almekinders, C. J. M., N. P. Louwaars, and G. H. de Bruijn. 1994. Local seed systems
and their importance for an improved seed supply in developing countries.
Euphytica 78:207–216.
Almekinders, C. J. M., T. Thiele, and D. L. Danial. 2007. Can cultivars from
participatory plant breeding improve seed provision to small-scale farmers?
Euphytica 153:263–272.
Alvarez, N., E. Garineb, C. Khasahc, E. Douniasd, M. Hossaert-McKeya, and
D. McKeya 2005. Farmers’ practices, meta-population dynamics, and conser-
vation of agricultural biodiversity on-farm: A case study of sorghum among the
Duupa in Sub-Sahelian Cameroon. Biolog. Conser. 121:533–543.
Aw-Hassan, A., A. Mazid, and H. Salahieh. 2008. The role of informal farmer-to-
farmer seed distribution in diffusion of new barley varieties in Syria. Exper.
Agric. 44(3): 413–431.
Bal, S. S., and J. E. Douglas. 1992. Designing successful farmer-managed seed sys-
tems. Development Studies Paper Series. Morrilton, AK: Winrock International
Institute for Agricultural Development.
Bishaw, Z., and M. Turner. 2007. Linking participatory plant breeding to the seed
supply system. Euphytica 163:31–44.
Bragdon, S., D. I. Jarvis, D. Gauchan, I. Mar, N. N. Hue, D. Balma, L. Collado,
et al. 2009. The agricultural biodiversity policy development process: Exploring
means of policy development to support the on-farm management of
crop genetic diversity. Int. J. Biodivers. Sci. Ecosyst. Serv. Manage. 5(1):
Byerlee, D., A. de Janvry, E. Sadoulet, R. Townsend, and I. Klytchnikova. 2007.
World development report, 2008. Agriculture for development. Washington, DC:
World Bank.
Ceccarelli, S., E.P. Guimarães, and E. Weltzien (Eds.). 2009. Plant breeding and
farmer participation. Rome, Italy: FAO.
CGN. 2007. Report on training of trainers (2nd workshop) on participatory plant
breeding in farmers’ field schools. Organized jointly by Ethio-Organic Seed
Action (EOSA) and Centre for Genetic Resources of the Netherlands (CGN),
29 October 02 November 2007. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CGN. http://
Chambers, R., A. Pacey, and L. A. Thrupp (Eds.). 1989. Farmer first: farmer
innovation and agricultural research. London, UK: Intermediate Technology.
Chinsanga, B. 2011. Seeds and subsidies: The political economy of input pro-
grammes in Malawi. IDS Bull. 42(4): 59–68.
Cromwell, E., E. Friss-Hansen, and M. Turner. 1992. The seed sector in develop-
ing countries: A framework for performance analysis. London, UK: Overseas
Development Institute.
Dalton, J. T., C. T. Anderson, L. Lipper, and A. Keleman. 2010. Market and access
to crop genetic resources. In Seed trade in rural markets. Implications for crop
diversity and agricultural development, edited by L. Lipper, C.L. Anderson and
J.T. Dalton, 15–30. London, UK: Earthscan.
David, S., L. Mukandala, and J. Mafure. 2002. Seed availability, an ignored factor in
crop varietal adoption studies: a case study of beans in Tanzania. J. Sustain.
Agric. 21(2): 5–20.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 57
De Boef, W. S., and M. H. Thijssen. 2010. The principles autonomy and
entrepreneurship guide the strengthening of LSB development in Ethiopia. LSB
Newslett. 6:2–5.
De Boef, W. S., H. Dempewolf, J. M. Byakweli and J. M. M. Engels. 2010. Integrating
genetic resource conservation and sustainable development into strategies to
increase the robustness of seed systems. J. Sustain. Agric. 34:504–531.
De Boef, W. S., N. P. Louwaars, and C. J. M. Almekinders. 1997. Methodology issues
in strengthening farmers’ research and technology development. In New fron-
tiers in participatory research and gender analysis for technology development.
Proceedings of the 1996 International Seminar on Participatory Research and
Gender Analysis for Technology Development in Cali, Colombia, 87–100. Cali,
Columbia: International Centre for Tropical Agriculture.
Douglas, J. 1980. Successful seed programs: A planning and management guide.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Emperaire, L., and N. Peroni. 2007. Traditional management of agrobiodiversity in
Brazil: A case study of manioc. Human Ecol. 35:761–768.
Evenson, R. E., and D. Gollin (Eds.). 2003. Crop variety improvement and its effect
on productivity: The impact of international agricultural research. Wallingford,
FAO. 2010. Second report on the state of the world’s plant genetic resources for food
and agriculture. Rome, Italy: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and
Feistritzer, W. P. 1984. The FAO seed improvement and development programme
(SIDP). Seed Sci. T echnol. 12(1): 31–34.
Frankel, O. H., and M. E. Soulé. 1981. Conservation and evolution. Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press.
Gregg, B. R., and A. J. G. van Gastel. 1997. Managing seed marketing. Ibadan,
Nigeria: IITA/GTZ/CRI.
Gyawali, S., B. R. Sthapit, B. Bhandari, J. Bajracharya, P. K. Shrestha, M. P. Upadhyay
and D. I. Jarvis. 2010. Participatory crop improvement and formal release of
Jethobudho rice landrace in Nepal. Euphytica 176:59–78.
Jarvis, D. I., R. Sevilla-Panizo, J. L. Chávez-Servia, and T. Hodgkin. 2004. Seed
systems and crop genetic diversity on-farm: Proceedings of a workshop on
16-20 September 2003, Pucallpa, Peru. Rome, Italy: IPGRI.
Jarvis, D. I., T. Hodgkin, B. R. Sthapit, C. Fadda, and I. Lopez Noriega. 2011. A heuris-
tic framework for identifying multiple ways of supporting the conservation and
use of traditional crop varieties within the agricultural production system. Crit.
Rev. Plant Sci. 30(1 & 2): 125–176.
Latournerie-Moreno, L., J. Tuxill, E. Yupit-Moo, L. Arias-Reyes, J. Cristobal-Alejo,
and D. I. Jarvis. 2006. Traditional maize storage methods of Mayan farmers
inYucatan, Mexico: implications for seed selection and crop diversity. Biodivers.
Conserv. 15(5): 1,771–1,795.
Lipper, L., C. L. Anderson, and T. J. Dalton (Eds.). 2010. Seed trade in rural mar-
kets. implications for crop diversity and agricultural development. London, UK:
Lipton, M., and R. Longhurst. 1989. New seeds and poor people. London, UK: Unwin
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
58 N. P. Louwaars and W. S. de Boef
Longley, C. Agricultural input vouchers in emergency programming: Lessons from
Ethiopia and Mozambique. HPG background paper. London, UK: Overseas
Development Institute.
Louette, D., A. Charrier, and J. Berthaud. 1997. In situ conservation of maize
in Mexico: Genetic diversity and maize seed management in a traditional
community. Econ. Bot. 51(1): 20–38.
Louwaars, N. 2007. Seeds of confusion: The impact of policies on seed systems. Diss.,
Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Louwaars, N. P. 1996a. Integrated seed supply: Institutional linkages in rela-
tion to system efficiency, biodiversity, and gender. In Alternative approaches
to bean seed production and distribution in Eastern and Southern Africa:
Proceedings of a Working Group Meeting, Kampala, Uganda, 10-13 October
1994. Network on Bean Research in Africa. Workshop Series No. 32, edited by
David, S. Kampala, Cali, Columbia: CIAT.
Louwaars, N. P. 1996b. Policies and strategies for seed system development. In
Integrating seed systems for annual food crops; proceedings of a workshop held
in Malang, Indonesia, October 24-27 1995, CGPRT Paper No. 32 , edited by
H. Van Amstel, J. W. T. Bottema, M. Sidik, and C. E. van Santen, 5–15. Bogor,
Indonesia: CGPRT, RILET and PERAGI.
Louwaars, N.P. (Ed.). 2002. Seed policy, legislation, and law: Widening a narrow
focus. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.
MacRobert, J. F. 2009. Seed business management in Africa. Harare, Zimbabwe:
Mason, N., T. S. Jayne, A. Chapoto, and C. Donovan. 2011. Putting the
2007/2008 global food crises in longer-term perspective: Trends in staple food
affordability in urban Zambia and Kenya. Food Policy 36(3): 350–367.
McGuire, S. J. 2008. Securing access to seed: social relations and sorghum seed
exchange in eastern Ethiopia. Human Ecol. 36(2): 217–229.
Nakaponda, B. 2011. National seed sector assessment–Zambia. African seed and
biotechnology programme/integrated seed sector development in Africa. Lusaka,
Zambia: Self Help Africa Zambia.
Neate, P. J. H., and R. G. Guei. 2011. Promoting the growth and development of
smallholder seed enterprises for food security crops. Rome, Italy: FAO.
O’Connor Funk, A. 2009. The African seed company toolbox: 52 tools every seed
company manager should know how to use. Nairobi, Kenya: Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation.
Pretty, J. N. 1995. Regenerating agriculture. Policies and practice for sustainability
and self-reliance. London, UK: Earthscan.
Richards, P., G. Ruivenkamp, and R. van der Drift. 1997. Seeds and survival; crop
genetic resources in war and reconstruction. Rome, Italy: IPGRI.
Salazar, R., N. Louwaars, and B. Visser (2007). Protecting farmers’ new varieties:
new approaches to rights on collective innovations in plant genetic resources.
World Develop. 35(9): 1,015–1,528.
Scoones, I., and J. Thompson. 2011. The politics of seed in Africa’s green revolution:
Alternative narratives and competing pathways. IDS Bulletin 42(4): 1–23.
Sentimela, P. S., B. Babu-Apraku, and W. Mwangi. 2009. Variety testing and
release approaches in DTMA project countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Harare,
Zimbabwe: CIMMYT.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa 59
Smale, M., D. Byerlee, and T. Jayne. 2011. Maize revolutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
Policy Research Working Paper 5659. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Sperling, L., and S. McGuire. 2010. Understanding and strengthening informal seed
markets. Exper. Agric. 46(2): 119–136.
Sperling, L., H. D. Cooper, and T. Remmington. 2008. Moving towards more effective
seed aid. J. Develop. Stud. 44(4): 586–612.
Sperling, L., T. C. Osborn, and H. D. Cooper. 2004. Towards effective and sustainable
seed relief activities. Report of the workshop on effective and sustainable seed
relief activities, Rome, 26-28 May 2003. Rome, Italy: FAO.
Sthapit, B. R., A. Subedi, P. Shrestha, P. Chaudhary, P. Shrestha, and M. Upadhyay.
2008. Practices supporting community biodiversity management of farmers’
varieties. In Farmers, seeds and varieties: Supporting informal seed supply in
Ethiopia, edited by M. H. Thijssen, Z. Bishaw, A. Beshir, and W. S. de Boef,
166–171. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen International.
Thijssen, M. H., Z. Bishaw, A. Beshir, and W.S. de Boef (Eds.). 2008. Farmers’ seeds
and varieties: supporting informal seed supply in Ethiopia. Wageningen, The
Netherlands: Wageningen International.
Toennissen, G., A. Adesina, and J. Devries (2008). Building an alliance for a green
revolution in Africa. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1,136:233–42.
Tripp, R. 1997. New seeds and old laws. London, UK: Intermediate Technology.
Tripp, R. 2001. Seed provision and agricultural development. The institutions of rural
change. Oxford, UK: James Currey.
Witcombe, J. R., and D. S. Virk. 1997. New directions for public sector variety testing.
In New seed and old laws: Regulatory reform and the diversification of national
seed system, edited by R. Tripp, 59–87. London, UK: Intermediate Technology.
Witcombe, J. R., A. Joshi, K. D. Joshi, and B. R. Sthapit. 1996. Farmer participatory
crop improvement. I. Varietal selection and breeding methods and their impact
on biodiversity. Exper. Agric. 32:445–460.
Downloaded by [Walter Simon De Boef] at 10:35 05 April 2013
... Some authors refer to seed systems as the set of market and non-market institutions governing these activities (Lipper et al., 2010). The availability, quantity, quality, and price of seed are key factors which influence the choice made by farmers (Louwaars et al., 2013). Physiological quality (germination/sprouting and vigour), sanitary quality (no seed-borne diseases or pests), analytical quality (high number of good seeds in a unit) and genetic quality (improved variety and varietal purity) can be hard to manage for seed producers and to verify for users (Almekinders and Louwaars, 1999). ...
... Traditionally, a distinction is made between informal and formal seed systems Louwaars et al., 2013). In informal seed systems, farmers select, produce, and distribute seeds themselves. ...
... Also, branded packaging of seed companies provides reassurance. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that around 80% of seed used is produced by the informal system (Louwaars et al., 2013;World Bank, 2007). For potato, this number is much higher and can reach around 95-98% . ...
... This also included strengthening agricultural infrastructure adopted from the colonial governments, including research, extension, and supporting institutions (Gilbert et al., 1994). During this time, development partner support was meant to build state capacity in agriculture research and extension to support the nascent formal seed system (Louwaars and de Boef, 2013). Later, seed laws started diffusing into Africa from developed countries regulating the certification procedures, seed-testing, phytosanitary measures, and variety release and registration (Bombin-Bombin, 1980). ...
... the Malawi Seed Act of 1988, Amended in 1996, that proposed its revision as detailed above (Mloza-Banda et al., 2010). To support national debate and knowledge, AU supported the integrated seed sector development project in Malawi and other countries to link formal and informal seed systems and ensure a balanced public and private sector involvement (Louwaars and de Boef, 2013). However, norms, biases, ideologies, and beliefs (H5) existed in the Malawi seed sector reforms. ...
... This also included strengthening agricultural infrastructure adopted from the colonial governments, including research, extension, and supporting institutions (Gilbert et al., 1994). During this time, development partner support was meant to build state capacity in agriculture research and extension to support the nascent formal seed system (Louwaars and de Boef, 2013). Later, seed laws started diffusing into Africa from developed countries regulating the certification procedures, seed-testing, phytosanitary measures, and variety release and registration (Bombin-Bombin, 1980). ...
... the Malawi Seed Act of 1988, Amended in 1996, that proposed its revision as detailed above (Mloza-Banda et al., 2010). To support national debate and knowledge, AU supported the integrated seed sector development project in Malawi and other countries to link formal and informal seed systems and ensure a balanced public and private sector involvement (Louwaars and de Boef, 2013). However, norms, biases, ideologies, and beliefs (H5) existed in the Malawi seed sector reforms. ...
Full-text available
External conditionalities have shaped public policy development in borrowing nations. This has been through top-down policy support programs, an example being the policy reforms under the structural adjustment program. Under the seed sector reforms Malawi committed to the Southern Africa Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa harmonized seed regulations technical agreements. To contribute to the debate, we analyzed the Malawi seed sector policy process by investigating three questions: What were the leading events? Who were the stakeholders involved, and their roles? Which factors influenced the policy process? Qualitative tools were employed based on policy process theory using the Kaleidoscope Model. We used stakeholder inception, planning, feedback workshops, and key informant interviews (N = 17). This data was complemented by grey literature as secondary information. Snowball sampling was used to identify key informant interview participants based on the saturation principle. Narrative analysis focusing on content, structure, and dialogic context was used. Our results show a strong external influence on the seed sector policy process. This began after independence when development partners supported the establishment of the public agricultural research system to improve production for food security and export. Failure to achieve the earlier objectives resulted in economic reforms aimed at private sector-led seed sector development based on market-oriented policies. The increase in the private sector's role called for the adoption and enactment of regulatory policies and legislation that used policy transfer theory. International financial institutions, multinational companies, and regional economic communities led this process. Our evidence suggests that the civil society community in Malawi contested the policies for not recognizing farmers’ rights. This affected the domestication process of the harmonized seed regulations technical agreements. Therefore, we recommend critical consideration and embracing of existing domestic social, political, and technical conditions to support economic policy reforms. This would help reduce unintended consequences and improve inclusivity. Governments may need to play an interlocutory role for the various actors in the policy domain during the domestication process.
... The support started with the infrastructure and institutional development of public research that was later liberalised and privatised (Buanec & Heffer, 2002). After privatisation, there have been concerted efforts to develop appropriate policies to regulate the sector and improve regional trade as the private sector's role in breeding, multiplying and distributing seeds in sub-Saharan Africa increased (Louwaars & de Boef, 2013). However, evidence suggests a lack of progress in terms of seed quantities, quality, and crop diversity delivered by the private sector in line with farmers' expectations and needs (Langyintuo et al., 2010). ...
Full-text available
At $1.5 billion the African seed sector accounts for 3.5 per cent of the global seed market. The growth is attributed to economic reforms and African countries adopting market-oriented policies promoting the private sector role and regional integration. However, smallholder farmers have reported poor quality certified seeds on the market. Therefore, this feasibility study sought to prove the existence of counterfeit hybrid maize seeds on the market in Malawi. Using the mystery shopper approach 37 hybrid maize seed samples were bought from agro-dealers and eight reference seed samples from the parent seed companies in three districts of Mchinji, Dowa, and Lilongwe. The agro-dealers were categorised whether licenced or not using the Seed Trade Association database. This was followed by quality and genetic purity using simple sequence repeat (SSR) tests. Results show that only 34% of the agro-dealers where the seed samples were procured were licensed by the government. Quality tests showed that the seeds were within the acceptable range for germination, moisture content, and purity percentage. However, genetic variation results showed that only one of the 37 samples matched the reference seed sample and the rest of the samples exhibited heterozygosity traits not matching the reference samples or similar lines.
... In order to increase levels of on-farm agrobiodiversity among vulnerable farm households, several ad-hoc interventions have emerged. There are programs directly focusing on agrobiodiversity cultivation (see, among others, the international community of practice ISSD-Africa Innovation for Seed Sector Transformation-established in 2012; Louwaars et al., 2013), as well as indirect interventions. Among the latter, national development strategies frequently implement protection programs to support livelihoods, mitigate income or food poverty, and enhance rural resilience (Dyngeland et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
In Ethiopia, on-farm agrobiodiversity and the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) play a key role in building smallholders’ resilience. However, the impact of PSNP on on-farm agrobiodiversity is not yet well investigated. In this paper, we develop an analytical framework that links PSNP participation to on-farm agrobiodiversity. Both diverse farming systems and PSNP require labour inputs while providing income stabilization, which might result in a negative relationship between the two. Conversely, higher income from PSNP might allow farmers to increase their long-term on-farm investments, as opposed to the strategies oriented toward the highest immediate profit or calorie intake outcome. We base our empirical analysis on the World Bank’s Ethiopian Socioeconomic Survey, a panel dataset encompassing nearly 3000 respondents and a Tobit model, based on Difference-in-Difference and the Propensity-Score Matching methods. We find that Ethiopia’s PSNP has a negative impact on farm labour input, both in terms of labour intensity and duration. Furthermore, our results show that participation in the program is associated, on average, with lower on-farm crop diversity. We conclude that the PSNP participation may be crowding-out production stabilizing farming activities, such as intercropping or cover cropping, that are more labour intensive. Our findings call for embedding tools in the new phase of the PSNP (2021–2025) that could incentivise on-farm resilience-oriented investments, in particular leading to higher crop diversification.
... Farmer' seed systems are often considered good traditional practices for seed security and therefore, for ensuring food sovereignty. Studies have indicated that depending upon crops and countries over 60 to 85% of the seeds of the main staple crops come through informal sectors in developing countries (Tripp, 1998;Louwaars, 2013) and 99% in the case of neglected and underutilized crop species (Sthapit et al., 2010). Such informal seed systems play a central role in the provision of planting materials in developing countries and are important for maintenance, adaptation and exchange of crop genetic resources in the landscape. ...
Full-text available
This book assess the issues and opportunities of seed systems in South Asia, and suggests some major policy interventions include: i) Strengthen CBSS by formulating the government’s policies and regular program framework; ii) Promote farmers’ right in seed production, saving, utilization, exchange and sale; iii) Link CBSS with the multinational and national seed companies; iv) Formalize the registration and release process of CBSS seeds; v) Promote in-situ practices and conservation of the biodiversity; vi) Leverage CBSS with Future Smart Food–promote nutrition sensitive agriculture, and neglected underutilized nutrition rich crops; and vii) Enhance the integrated efforts of the development partners and stakeholders in the seed value chain.
... Given this reality, many researchers and practitioners have called for approaches that promote seed production at the local level (Almekinders & Louwaars, 2002;Bishaw & Gastel, 2008;David, 2004;Jones et al., 2001;Louwaars & de Boef, 2012;Louwaars et al., 2013;Sperling et al., 2014;Thijssen et al., 2015). These efforts include community seed banks, seed exchange schemes, farmer seed enterprises (FSEs), community-based seed enterprises, and local seed businesses to produce quality declared seeds (QDS). ...
Full-text available
Legume seed systems in many developing countries are characterized by low availability of certified seeds because the private sector is often absent, and the public sector has limited capacity to produce such seeds. Farmer seed enterprises (FSEs) are therefore increasingly promoted as alternative suppliers of certified and in some instances, quality declared and truthfully labelled seeds. In this study, we assess the commercial viability of FSEs that produce chickpea and green gram certified seeds by comparing average seed production cost, inclusive of opportunity costs and expected profits, with consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) price. The cost of seed production data come from a survey of 63 FSEs and the data on WTP are from the Becker, DeGroot, Marschak (BDM) bidding experiments conducted with 512 farmers from the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar. We find that the post-harvest storage cost during the 7–8 months between harvest and the next planting season contributes significantly to the total cost of producing seeds. Forty-seven percent of chickpea farmers and 53% of green gram farmers were willing to pay equal to or higher than the average minimum cost of producing certified seeds. which is as an upper bound estimate of potential market share for FSEs’ certified seeds. This potential customer base of FSEs can be further increased by reducing the cost, especially post-harvest and labor costs. What role government, private companies, and NGOs could play in reducing the cost and increasing the demand for certified seed are important policy research questions discussed in the paper.
Community Seed Banks (CSBs) have been established in many developing countries to improve small-scale farmers’ access to crop genetic resources and thereby their food security. However, empirical evidence of the effects on farmers’ food security remains scarce. This study focuses on Malawi, where the NGO Biodiversity Conservation Initiative has facilitated the operation of four CSBs. Among these, Mkombezi CSB was selected for in-depth analysis, as a case of a well-established CSB carrying out typical activities of a CSB, such as conserving a rich diversity of crop varieties, enhancing the performance of selected varieties, enabling access to relatively high-quality seed of the varieties, arranging seed and food fairs, capacity building in agricultural practices responding to the effects of climate change, as well as trainings in group dynamics and gender relations relevant to food production and the operation of the CSB. Three questions guide this study: (1) Does Mkombezi CSB contribute to food security? (2) If so, how? (3) Under what conditions may the findings be relevant for other CSBs in Malawi and elsewhere? The analysis builds on qualitative information from 43 semi-structured in-depth interviews, two focus-group discussions and 24 key informant interviews. We find that Mkombezi CSB contributes decisively to improving food security among its members as well as helping them to cope with lean seasons and unexpected shocks. Overall, this study indicates that under certain conditions, CSBs may contribute considerably to food security.
In sub-Saharan Africa, public sector breeding programs depend on local seed companies to deliver new maize varieties to farmers. Such varieties are needed to adapt cropping systems to climate change. While dozens of small and medium seed companies have emerged in the last two decades, the maize seed market in Kenya remains dominated by the parastatal seed company Kenya Seed Company, with multinational seed companies making major inroads. We assess whether parastatal and multinational seed companies have captured Kenya’s seed laws to the detriment of local small and medium seed companies (‘regulatory capture’), negatively effecting competition and the capacity of local companies to introduce new varieties in the hybrid maize seed market. We conducted in-depth interviews based on legal clauses with maize seed companies active in Kenya, as well as interviews with regulators and stakeholders. Results show that local companies do not feel disadvantaged compared to their multinational counterparts or the parastatal. However, all of them are wary of the entry of new actors. Moreover, through excessive procedures, the Kenyan government keeps a sovereign grasp over the seed sector. Despite frustrations with some of these excessive procedures, seed companies felt comfortable in the protective environment of the Kenyan seed market and were generally happy with the technical aspects of Kenya’s seed laws, which are based on international norms. We suggest some improvements to make Kenyan seed laws more conducive to varietal turnover, in line with seed companies’ suggestions and taking into account the political sensitivities of the Kenyan government.
Full-text available
en Networks have increasingly played an essential role in the economic reform policy process in developing countries. However, their policy influence and impact on agriculture and the seed sector are unknown. Therefore, this study used social network analysis to understand the role of the policy networks in Malawi's harmonized seed regulation policy process. Key informant interviews were used for primary data collection for the SNA questionnaires (N = 27). The primary data was complemented by secondary information. Data analysis used network graphs, centrality measures, and descriptive methods to understand the network's governance structure and social interaction. Three centralized networks with external affiliations were identified: seed trade and corporate citizenship representing core-peripheral networks and the policy advocacy network as a hub-and-spoke. The governance structure and type of administration determined the policy networks' influence in advocating for specific policy interests. Strong technical and financial support from international organizations and the government to a network proved critical in Malawi's seed sector policy reform direction. These ensured network trust that was important in bringing cohesion and stability toward a common policy goal. This call for support for those networks representing the underprivileged in developing countries, including civil society. Resumen es Las redes han desempeñado un papel cada vez más esencial en el proceso de política de reforma económica en los países en desarrollo. Sin embargo, se desconoce su influencia política y su impacto en la agricultura y el sector de las semillas. Por lo tanto, este estudio utilizó el análisis de redes sociales para comprender el papel de las redes de políticas en el proceso de políticas armonizadas de regulación de semillas de Malawi. Se utilizaron entrevistas con informantes clave para la recopilación de datos primarios para los cuestionarios SNA (N = 27). Los datos primarios se complementaron con información secundaria. El análisis de datos utilizó gráficos de red, medidas de centralidad y métodos descriptivos para comprender la estructura de gobierno de la organización y la interacción social. Se identificaron tres redes centralizadas con afiliaciones externas: comercio de semillas y ciudadanía corporativa que representan redes centrales y periféricas y la red de promoción de políticas como centro y radio. La estructura de gobierno y el tipo de administración determinaron la influencia de las redes políticas en la defensa de intereses políticos específicos. El fuerte apoyo técnico y financiero de las organizaciones internacionales y el gobierno a una red resultó fundamental en la dirección de la reforma de la política del sector de semillas de Malawi. Esto aseguró la confianza de la red que fue importante para llevar la cohesión y la estabilidad hacia un objetivo de política común. Esta convocatoria de apoyo para aquellas redes que representan a los desfavorecidos en los países en desarrollo, incluida la sociedad civil. 摘要 zh 网络在发展中国家的经济改革政策进程中发挥着越来越重要的作用。不过, 尚不清楚的是, 网络的政策影响力以及对农业和种子部门的影响。因此, 本研究使用社会网络分析以理解政策网络在马拉维种子监管政策协调过程中的作用。使用关键知情人访谈, 为社会网络分析(SNA)问卷(N=27)收集主要数据。主要数据由次要信息补充。数据分析使用网络图、中心性度量和描述性方法, 以理解组织的治理结构和社会互动。识别了三个具有外部联系的中心化网络:种子贸易、代表核心-周边网络的企业公民、以及轴辐式的政策倡导网络。治理结构和管理类型决定了政策网络在倡导特定政策利益方面的影响力。证据显示, 国际组织和政府对网络的强大技术支持和财政支持, 对马拉维种子部门政策改革方向而言至关重要。这些确保了网络信任, 后者对于为共同的政策目标带来凝聚力和稳定性一事具有重要性。这呼吁支持那些代表发展中国家弱势群体的网络, 包括公民社会。
Full-text available
Farmer participatory approaches for the identification or breeding of improved crop cultivars can be usefully categorized into participatory varietal selection (PVS) and participatory plant breeding (PPB). Various PVS and PPB methods are reviewed. PVS is a more rapid and cost-effective way of identifying farmer-preferred cultivars if a suitable choice of cultivars exists. If this is impossible, then the more resource-consuming PPB is required. PPB can use, as parents, cultivars that were identified in successful PVS programmes. Compared with conventional plant breeding, PPB is more likely to produce farmer-acceptable products, particularly for marginal environments. The impact of farmer participatory research on biodiversity is considered. The long-term effect of PVS is to increase biodiversity, but where indigenous variability is high it can also reduce it. PPB has a greater effect on increasing biodiversity although its impact may be limited to smaller areas. PPB can be a dynamic form of in situ genetic conservation.
Full-text available
Alongside conventional agriculture, other farming systems strongly connected to the ‘terroir’2 have been preserved and are now re-emerging in Europe based on growing mar- ket opportunities. These agricultural systems need a wide range of varieties – from lan- draces to old commercial varieties, farmers’ varieties and populations – able to be adapted to diverse agronomical practices, social con- ditions and environments, particularly with the aim of increasing the resilience of the agroecosystems. Recently, in Europe the rec- ognition of the limitations of modern com- mercial varieties – bred for conventional, high input agriculture – and the needs of organic farming have stimulated several innovative initiatives with regard to crop varieties, aimed at conservation, creating new forms of varie- ties, and changing plant breeding and seed pro- duction organization. But the large diversity of experiences and initiatives is not reflected in European laws and policies. European seed laws and policies had been conceived in order to modernize agricultural systems. This framework is based on the assumptions that seed systems follow a natural development pathway from farmers’ production through government involvement towards a perfectly competitive private seed market, e.g. from the informal to the formal one. However, in the last years the European scenario has been changing due to the approval of the directives on ‘conservation varieties’ and the process of reviewing seed laws within the framework of the Better Regulation Strategy (FCEC, 2008). Farm Seed Opportunities (FSO), a research project in the FP6 European Research Framework (2007–2009), was targeted to sup- port the implementation of seed regulations on conservation varieties (directives 98/95/EC, 2008/62/EC, 2009/145/EC and 2010/60/EC) and to suggest complementary seed regulation scenarios taking into account the diversity of the European seed systems. The FSO project was a collaborative effort of farmers and scien- tists from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. This paper, based on the Policy Recommendations of the project, highlights the role conservation varieties could have in Europe for agricultural diversity con- servation and stresses the importance of appro- priate laws and policies for the maintenance of vital informal seed systems even in Europe (Louwaars, 2007).
Full-text available
This report presents a summary of variety testing and release regulations in DTMA project countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In order to understand these approaches a study was undertaken in 2007 under the auspices of the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF). The objectives of the study were to: • Define the time taken to release elite maize varieties. • Summarize the variety release requirements and procedures in DTMA countries in SSA. • Identify constraints hampering the release of elite maize varieties to smallholder farmers. • Propose strategies to hasten the release of new maize varieties. The study covered all the DTMA project countries: Angola, Benin, Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. South Africa was included as a reference point because it is considered to have the most advanced and liberal seed system in SSA. The data for the study were collected in 2007/2008 through a survey of 13 selected national seed authorities (NSA). The questionnaire for the survey was sent out to the NSAs followed by discussions with agricultural researchers, and the revision of published information on variety release guidelines and procedures for each country. The data were also complemented by information from national variety release catalogues wherever possible. MAJOR FINDINGS Variety release regulations The results from the study show that for new maize varieties to be marketed they must be registered. The registration process requires that tests for distinctiveness, uniformity and stability (DUS) and value for cultivation and use (VCU) be conducted first before registration. The registration establishes legal ownership of the new maize variety. The DUS and the VCU tests can take between one and three years before sufficient data are available for variety registration. The seed laws for variety testing and release govern seed production, certification, marketing, import and export of maize seed. The seed laws on variety testing and release among the 13 countries are variable and inconsistent. The variability and inconsistency of the seed laws make it costly for seed companies to release and market new maize varieties. A new maize variety must be tested each time it is to be marketed in the respective countries, even if it is developed for sale across a wide range of agro-ecologies. In each country, a National Variety Release Committee (NVCR) makes a decision to release or to reject a new variety based on the data compiled in the release proposal. In a number of situations, the public sector was found to be dominant in the variety release committee meetings and there were complaints that there was a bias in the scrutiny of varieties to the disadvantage of those from the private sector. In some cases the variety was not released based on its merit and uniqueness. Varietal releases The results also show that between 2002 and 2006 nearly 600 maize varieties were released by the private and the public sectors. The varietal release rates were highest in southern Africa including iv South Africa followed by eastern Africa, and lastly, West Africa. Southern Africa had the highest adoption rate of new improved maize varieties while West Africa had the lowest adoption rate. The private seed sector dominated the varietal release rates in South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, indicating the strong presence of the private sector. White maize hybrids dominated the maize varietal releases between 2002 and 2006. Recommendations • Promotion of regional standards for plant breeders rights (PBRs): Regional standards for PBRs should be promoted to allow plant breeding programs to generate income from the products of their research through royalties. This will provide an opportunity for the private and the public sectors to benefit from the product of research and encourage more investments in variety improvement. The study therefore recommends the development of PBRs in each country. • Regional harmonization of seed laws: The three regions—eastern, southern and western Africa— will benefit from free flow of germplasm across national boundaries if the regional variety release process is implemented. Maize varieties released in one country should be regarded as automatically released in the other countries with similar ecologies. Mega-environments cut across country boundaries and adaptation zones are not country specific so varieties should be released based on mega-environments to create a larger seed market and quicken variety release. Therefore this study supports regional variety release based on mega-environments. • Promoting the use of data from other countries: Only a few countries accept data from other countries for variety release. Testing should not be mandatory for varieties already released in other countries if the recommendation domain is the same. If data from other countries are accepted for variety release this will eliminate re-testing of varieties from country to country therefore saving resources and quickening variety release. • Simplification of variety testing: A number of agronomic and DUS data are required for variety release. Registration should be simplified so that only important VCU and DUS information would be required to distinguish the new variety from the others. The DUS information should be from one season since DUS is not affected much by the environment. DUS tests should be conducted along with multi-environment trials (METs) to shorten time to variety release. • Promotion of the use of breeders’ own data: Breeders’ own data should be used to support variety release thereby eliminating the need for national performance trials (NPTs). The number of locations required for release should be few and emphasis should be on locations where the variety will be recommended for production. Production of breeders’ seed: Breeders should embark on limited seed production and marketing instead of waiting until the variety is fully released, as this prolongs the period taken for the variety to reach farmers. • Variety release guidelines: In some cases the NVRC rejects the variety and asks the breeder to improve a specific trait delaying the release of a new variety. The determination to release should be based on merit and uniqueness. The new variety should contribute new trait(s) that the existing one does not possess. Therefore, governments should develop variety release guidelines in those countries where these are lacking to ensure fairness and transparency in the variety release process. • Frequency of meetings of NVRC: The variety release meetings have been irregular in some countries. This study encourages governments to ensure that NVRC meet regularly and funds should be made available for the meetings. Concluding remarks The survey results show that variety testing and release committees differ a great deal among countries, including in their composition. In a number of situations, the public sector dominates the variety release committee meetings. The difficulties with existing variety releases system have resulted in delayed access by farmers to new maize varieties. The system has allowed few varieties to be released; it is costly and duplicative, as the same variety must be tested in all countries where it is being targeted for marketing. The return on investment is also delayed as seed companies have to wait for a long period before they can enter the seed market while their variety is undergoing testing prior to release.
Full-text available
European seed policies and legislation have contributed to fostering a system in which fewer varieties are traded in ever bigger markets in accordance with the law of economy of scale. Informal seed systems have been marginalised and perceived as outdated in a scenario in which the agricultural system was being modernised. In 1998, however, the European Union recognised the need to conserve agricultural genetic resources and created a catalogue specially for registering what it called ‘conservation varieties’. In June 2008 an EU Directive was issued regulating the agricultural species involved. So what is this ‘new’ category of variety. What impact will it have in supporting the informal conservation initiatives in agricultural biodiversity and making them legitimate? This article sets out to address these questions by analysing the concept of conservation variety from when the phrase was coined up to the recent European directive 62/2008. After describing and evaluating the impact that the directive may have, Italian regulation on conservation varieties will be analysed focusing on synergies and diversities. Lastly, in the light of the International Treaty on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, attention will turn to the regulations in order to verify how they correspond.
Full-text available
Robert Tripp. Seed Provision and Agricultural Development: The Institutions of Rural Change. London: Overseas Development Institute/Oxford: James Currey/Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2001. viii + 174 pp. Tables. Notes. References. Index. $64.00. Cloth. The aim of this book is to provide a comprehensive overview of the nature of seed provision, a topic the author, Robert Tripp, situates at the forefront of contemporary debates on rural development in the global south. Tripp astutely links this topic to larger theoretical discussions by using "seed provision as a lens through which to examine the broader subject of agricultural development" (2). More specifically, "the book examines how the institutions of seed provision developed in industrial economies and assesses the performance of contemporary seed institutions in the South" (10). A major thesis of the volume is that efficient information exchange is required for development of the seed sector and that institutions (rules and organizations) are important for facilitating such exchange. While the author frequently uses examples from the African continent (particularly Anglophone Africa), he explores seed provision and agricultural development in a variety of contexts (Africa, Latin America, Asia). Although the study engages theory, it is written in straightforward prose, employing academic jargon only where it is helpful and when it has been explained. The book is organized into eight chapters. The first offers an introduction and a discussion of agricultural development. In the second chapter, the author argues for a focus on institutions and incentives as a way to approach the study of agricultural development. Tripp suggests a pragmatic combination of new institutional economics and new economic sociology in order to do this. In chapter 3 he reviews the factors that motivate a farmer's selection of seeds and crop varieties, and the biological aspects of plant breeding and seed production. Chapter 4 describes the organization of farm-level seed provision, including farmers' seed management and selection of crop varieties, seed flows among farmers, and the problem of imperfect information. The evolution of the commercial seed sector is described in chapter 5. As farm level and commercial seed systems expand, the government often becomes involved in tasks that are difficult to organize independently. This public-sector involvement in seed systems is assessed in chapter 6. Donor and government interventions, particularly seed development projects, are discussed in chapter 7. Finally, chapter 8 summarizes the book's findings and makes suggestions for seed system development. …
Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Uganda and the government's vision is to develop a profitable, competitive, sustainable and dynamic agricultural and agro-industrial sector. To achieve this requires that the majority smallholder farmers access yield-enhancing technologies. Seed is regarded as a crucial input since it is the basic means of technology transfer to farmers.Policy development for research and seed production and control is put in a historical context, showing the need to regularly update policies, institutions and laws in order to meet the requirements of the changing conditions. Smallholder focus through stimulating participatory plant breeding and stimulating private investment in the formal seed sector need to be included. Furthermore, the composition of policy making and implementing bodies changed, and regulations were adapted with a focus on regional harmonisation.Seed policies, laws and regulations will need to be reviewed again to accommodate new trends in the industry such as GMOs, genetic conservation, and biosafety. A suitable regulatory framework is crucial in strengthening the seed industry. And a successful seed industry will be instrumental in the government's drive to modernise agriculture in Uganda.