Policy and institutional frameworks impacting on vegetable seed production and distribution systems in Cameroon
Vegetables, especially traditional species, are an important source of micronutrient rich foods and diversified sources of income for rural people. However, farmers’ access to quality vegetable seeds is a critical bottleneck in most communities, while enabling government policies to facilitate the establishment of an efficient vegetable seed supply and distribution systems are lacking. This article in the Journal of Crop Improvement assesses policy and institutional frameworks impacting on vegetable seed production and distribution systems to establish benchmark indicators for successful integration and/or diversification of vegetables into existing farming systems in the humid forest area of Cameroon. Results revealed four categories of seeds: hybrid, composite, “washed,” and farmers reserved seeds. Many actors that could be motivated to work on vegetable seeds if an enabling environment was created were identified. The major constraints observed in the vegetable seed sector included the inadaptability of legal instruments to the vegetable seed sector, absence of effective processing and storage facilities, absence of seed-testing facilities, poor knowledge of seed production, and the heterogeneity/adulteration of seeds. Consequently, farmers were obliged to use poor quality seeds with low germination rates of 5% to less than 80%. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the national agricultural policy to make special provisions on the production and distribution of vegetable seeds. Such provisions will increase collaboration and coordination between major seed value chain actors and stakeholders (i.e., national agricultural research system, the ministry of agriculture, and the private sector), remove critical bottlenecks in the seed-supply chains, and examine the existing opportunities in the systems for improvement.