Knowledge for Development

Related developments

Improved seed variety value chains in Zambia: A missed opportunity to improve smallholder productivity

This study uses a value-chain framework to examine the challenges and opportunities for sorghum, millet and maize in Zambia. Based on information from 130 smallholder farmers, 57 seed dealers, five private seed companies, and two research institutions, the study shows that despite new market opportunities, development and release of improved varieties was very slow owing to policy and institutional constraints. Productivity enhancements were also impeded by poor access to high-yielding seed varieties and fertiliser. Such constraints need to be addressed to ensure productivity gains.  Authors: P. Hamukwala, Tembo, G., Erbaugh, J.M. and Larson, W.D. Publication: African Journal of Agricultural Research 7(34), 4803-4818 Date: 2012


The role of varietal attributes on adoption of improved seed varieties. The case of sorghum in Kenya

This paper examines the effect of variety attributes on adoption of improved sorghum varieties in Kenya. The results show that improved varieties had desirable production and marketing attributes, while local varieties were perceived to have the best consumption attributes. The findings imply that, while developing improved seed varieties, breeders should also focus on non-yield attributes like taste and ease of cooking. Further, it is important that both producers and consumers of sorghum be involved in the seed evaluation process. This paper was presented at  the 2012 annual meeting of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association. You will find a full overview of authors and sessions at:  Authors: Timu, A.G., Mulwa, R.M., Okello, J. and Kamau, M.  Publication: Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, Milwaukee, WI 53202, USA  Date: 2012


Rwanda seed sector baseline study

The African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) has been mandated to take the lead in a process to harmonise seed certification, by agreement between AFSTA and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). This Rwandan seed sector baseline study concludes that the sector operates in an environment characterised by weak institutional capacities. Revision of the 2003 Rwanda seed act is recommended to reinforce national seed policy. Interaction between chain actors should be increased to enhance the creation of added value, e.g.  seed conditioning, packaging and storage. The central government has introduced mechanisms to encourage the use of improved seeds by the majority of farmers. The Seed Trade Association of Rwanda (STAR) needs to position itself as a professional and business-minded organisation to take over such operations. Further, AFSTA needs to focus on institutional and technical capacity building of the private sector to take over the State’s basic operations with regard to the production/multiplication and marketing/distribution of seeds.  Authors: Nkuliyimana, G.  Publication: African Seed Trade Association, Nairobi, Kenya  Date: 2010


Measuring on farm diversity and determinants of barley diversity in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia

This paper deals with on-farm diversity and on-farm conservation issues. Maintaining on-farm diversity of crop varieties has received increasing attention as a strategy for mitigating production risk and protecting food security in resource-poor farming systems with few opportunities for insurance or trade. The results from diversity index and multidimensional preference (MDPR) analysis confirm the presence of phenotypic diversity within and between varieties. These determinants are associated with household, farm and policy environments. The study has some important implications: (1) documenting the existing diversity of farmer-named varieties can serve as an entry point for decentralised participatory breeding; (2) the socio-economic determinants of barley diversity are analysed, highlighting some policy directions to support local resource development. Authors: Abay, F., Bjørnstad, A.A. and Smale, M.  Publication: Momona Ethiopian Journal of Science 1(2), 44-66  Date: 2009


Developing seed systems with and for the marginalized: case of common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in East, Central and Southern Africa

This paper illustrates examples of integrated seed systems being carried out in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa by National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) with support from the International Center for Tropical Agricultural (CIAT) and regional bean research networks under the umbrella of the Pan Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA). Various steps to develop an efficient seed system for the poor are identified, e.g. set bean research and development priorities with farmers and other stakeholders; engage farmers and traders in the varietal testing system; avail foundation seeds regularly to both formal and local seed producers engage farmers, farmers’ organisations, extension services and development organisations; partner with other service providers to share various seed related activities; encourage complementarity among the formal and informal seed sector and, more importantly, sharing of seeds horizontally (farmer-to-farmer); to improve the quantity produced to meet the demand and increase local stock of the varieties, other yield enhancing (non-seed) technologies are required; and, engage key stakeholders like the grain/seed merchants in the dissemination and outlets for producers. Authors: Rubyogo, J.C., Sperling, L., Nasirumbi, L. and Kasambala, S.  Publication: Farmer First Revisited - Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development. Scoones, I.  and Thompson, J. (ed.) Practical Publishing, Rugby, UK  Date: 2007


Seed exchange networks for agrobiodiversity conservation. A review

Whereas agrobiodiversity conservation has received much attention from researchers and policymakers over the last decades, the methods available to study the role of seed exchange networks in preserving crop biodiversity have only recently begun to be considered. In this overview, the authors present key concepts, methods, and challenges to better understand seed exchange networks so as to improve the chances that traditional crop varieties (landraces) will be preserved and used sustainably around the world.  Authors: Pautasso, M., Aistara, G., Barnaud, A., Caillon, S., Clouvel, P., Coomes, O.T. et al.  Publication: Agronomy for Sustainable Development 33(1), 151-175  Date: 2013


The Defining Moments In Ethiopian Seed System

This book summarises new and important research on seed systems, both within Ethiopia and across Africa. It provides insights into the latest innovations in seed system research and development, the evolving role and performance of the formal and informal seed sectors and the potential for their integration and, significantly, the political economic and institutional factors shaping national and regional seed policy and processes.   Authors: Wold, A.T., Fikre, A., Alemu, D., Desalegn, L.  and Kirub, A. (ed.)  Publication: Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ethiopia  Date: 2012


Development and delivery of bean varieties in Africa: the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) model

The Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) has sought to accelerate the transition of beans from a subsistence crop to a modern commodity in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper presents a unique partnership model and the breeding and seed delivery strategies used by PABRA to reach millions of beneficiaries with improved bean varieties. The breeding strategy involved the paradigm shift from a monolithic approach where varieties were bred for yield or resistance to single environmental stresses, to a grain type-led and market-driven approach. The PABRA model comprises partnerships between and among the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), public and private sector actors along the varied bean product value chains, and technology end-users.  Authors: Buruchara, R., Chirwa, R., Sperling, L., Mukankusi, C., Rubyogo, J.C. and Mutonhi, R. et al.  Publication: African Crop Science Journal 19(4), 227-245  Date: 2011


CTA/ASARECA side event on ‘Seed science and policy learning’, 2nd ASARECA general assembly and scientific conference

The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) held its second general assembly and scientific conference on 9–13 December 2013, in Burundi. During a side event of Parallel Sessions 1 and 2, CTA conducted a two-day workshop on ‘Seed science and policy learning’. 


Story: Vegetable seedlings' business offers advantages over formal seed supply approach for smallholders

The Koga irrigation scheme in Ethiopia was finalised in May 2012 and more than 10,000 households residing in the irrigation scheme have started year-round crop production. Because many farmers in Koga irrigation scheme are new to irrigated vegetable crops production and post harvest handling practices, they do not know how to produce and process seeds of different vegetable crops and thus need to purchase imported seed from local private vegetable seed retailers. This situation posed a number of issues. The quantity of each imported seed package is too much for what the farmers require and the price of packed vegetable seeds is often too expensive for most smallholders. On top of this, most farmers do not have adequate knowledge and skills to raise and manage vegetable seedlings. This situation is creating a favourable environment for small entrepreneurs to raise and market vegetable seedlings in the area in the way that's practical and affordable for the scheme's smallholders. These local businesses create trust among farmers and input suppliers, often serving as alternative extension service providers with their expertise as seedling producers.   (LIVES Ethiopia, 15/01/2014)