Identifying options for the development of sustainable seed systems: Insights from Kenya and Mali
This working paper (PDF) by the Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn, aims to propose an agenda for supporting sustainable development of seed systems in two sub-Saharan countries, Kenya and Mali, based on the experiences and insight of seed system actors who contribute to various functions and operate at different scales. In Kenya, most breeding for staple cereal crops is done by public breeding programmes, in Mali all breeding is. Limited choice of new varieties exists in both countries. Important quality and use-related traits are not systematically considered in breeding programmes. Factors that limit seed system development are slow and costly release procedures, limited availability of information and cash-flow constraints. One important hypothesis for further discussion is that business models that include more decentralized models of seed production and distribution have comparative advantages for meeting the highly diverse demands of farmers in countries like Kenya or Mali, with a wide range of agro-ecological conditions and production systems, and could help reduce transaction costs. An important conclusion is that sustainable seed system development requires more actor-orientation, with central focus on farmers’ capacities and needs. Furthermore, strengthening actors’ capacities to collect, share and assess information about varieties and their comparative performances will contribute to dynamic, responsive seed systems. Plant breeding, as the source of value creation, needs to be regarded as an integral component of functioning seed systems. Decentralized seed production and marketing enterprises can serve as nuclei for an emerging locally-based seed industry. Lastly, seed systems could benefit from more rigorous assessments of how interventions, new technologies, policies and formal organizations influence seed system innovation and sustainable development.