Implications of seed policies for on-farm agro-biodiversity in Ethiopia and Uganda
This article (PDF) in the journal Sustainable Agricultural Research summarizes how current institutions and policies related to seed production and distribution in Ethiopia and Uganda influence the shaping of seed systems. It also considers whether policies provide space for informal seed systems to continue to operate and evolve and for farmers to utilize local and traditional varieties together with improved ones. Across East Africa, national seed policies and commercial seed enterprises have focused on increasing farmers’ access to modern seed varieties. Findings suggest that seed policies are largely framed and formulated to regulate and support the formal seed sector; yet the bulk of seed used by smallholders in the two countries are from the informal sector. While national seed policies have some direct negative impacts on informal seed systems through introducing additional restrictions and costs on farmer- and community-based seed development and exchange, as it does in the lack of positive impacts in the informal seed sector. Although the formal seed sector is the primary source of new crop varieties, and is home to most of the capacity in scientific plant breeding, extension services and credit, the informal sector is the primary source of genetic diversity and is an important link to farmers traditional knowledge, which forms the basis and the genetic pool for breeding for new varieties. Despite, this, the policies analyzed here show little support for informal seed systems, and relatively little support for genetic diversity in either formal or informal seed systems.