Access to Seeds Index 2019: Eastern and Southern Africa
This Access to Seeds Index evaluates the performance of the seed industry in taking the lead in reaching smallholder farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa. The index, evaluating 22 leading seed companies in the region, reveals that companies are present in all index countries and investing in local seed sector development, but need more step up efforts to reach more smallholders. Furthermore, the industry offers a broad portfolio in East and South Africa, tailored to the needs of smallholders. Companies offer a full range of field crops, legumes and vegetables to smallholders in the region, with maize considered the most important and all but one company offering vegetables. Companies demonstrate tailored approaches to smallholder customers by offering a mix of hybrid and open-pollinated varieties. The breeding focus is primarily on maize, raising concerns over crop diversity and adaptability within the regional seed system. Global companies have more developed breeding programs, releasing double the number of new varieties. Moreover, almost all companies provide extension services, aimed at helping farmers to adopt improved seeds. However, these are geographically imbalanced, resulting in lack of adoption activities in multiple countries across the region. Counterfeit seed affects the business viability of both farmers and seed companies and has a significant impact upon companies’ adoption strategies and marketing and sales activities. Companies use diverse tactics to tackle this. East African Seed tops the 2019 Access to Seeds Index for Eastern and Southern Africa. The company has a growing distribution network in the region. It stands out for its research activities that include local crops, seed production activities involving smallholders and a broad network of extension officers in multiple countries.