India’s seed sector is flourishing. Could African farmers benefit?
This expert opinion of Dominic Clover on Future Agricultures assesses to what extend India’s thriving seed sector can play a role in delivering affordable, high-quality seeds to African farmers. Africa’s share in the global seed trade is relatively low, and seed markets are often not supported in African countries. Poor seed supply threatens agriculture’s ability to play its part in economic development, food security and poverty alleviation. In the face of these challenges, African countries are working together across the continent to improve seed systems. One promising partner may be India. Clover argues that India shares some of the diverse agro-ecologies and crops found in Africa, so technologies and methods used by Indian farmers might also be relevant to African situations. India’s development story, as an emerging economy with millions of its own small-scale cultivators, might indeed provide relevant knowledge, expertise and investments to help develop the seed sector in Africa. In addition, India’s seed firms are also accustomed to working in a market comprised largely of millions of small-scale and resource-constrained farmers, which arguably positions them to develop similar opportunities in Africa. Nevertheless, Clover warns that if India’s seed exports to Africa increased, they would need to be supported by strong public investment and policy frameworks.
Also see this report (PDF) by Future Agricultures for a more in-depth analysis on South-South cooperation in seeds between India and the South.