Strengthening developing-country seed systems and markets: Policy trade-offs, unintended consequences, and operational realities
This webinar by CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) explores novel approaches to strengthening seed systems and markets. David Spielman, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) presents the webinar. The aim is to chalk out some basic principles to help understand the effects of changes in public policies on seed systems and markets in developing countries. It draws on examples from a range of crops cultivated in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Zambia from which insights are generated on where private sector seed distribution models are working well, where regulations facilitate quicker varietal release and more rapid turnover, and where quality assurance mechanisms provide effective oversight without inhibiting incentives to produce and distribute quality seed. Key design elements for policies are discussed. These include: rules for accessing better genetics; procedures for accelerating varietal release; regulations for assuring seed quality; investments for promoting new seeds and traits; and incentives for encouraging market growth. Several strategies are considered: 1) Integrate into the informal; leverage informal seed systems. 2) Formalize the informal; regulate all seeds and traits in the system. 3) Formalize where it matters most; regulate strategically. 4) Focus on commercial potential; foster private sector-led growth of seed markets. 5) Farmer self-regulation; encourage farmer-led development of seed markets. The conclusion is that there is an urgent need for evidence on “what works” in seed policy.