Understanding root, tuber, and banana seed systems and coordination breakdown: A multi-stakeholder framework
This article (PDF), in the Journal of Crop Improvement describes a multi-stakeholder framework in vegetatively propagated crop (VPC) seed systems. VPC are reproduced not with true seed but with vegetative planting material. This material (called “seed” in the remaining of the summary) tends to remain true to varietal type, but is bulky, often carries disease, and is slow to produce. Therefore, VPC seed needs to be handled differently than other crops. The multi-stakeholder framework proposed is a tool to: a) document VPC seed systems and build a stronger evidence base for future interventions; b) diagnose coordination breakdown and recommend solutions, and; c) guide design of more integrated and sustainable seed system interventions for VPCs. Critical areas for coordination among stakeholders, to avoid coordination breakdown, include: VPC seed producers and users because VPC seed may not be easily stored; regulatory agencies to see the disease risk in VPCs with quality control practices and; donors and national agencies to promote broader adoption of new varieties and to improve seed quality. In the article, the framework was used with 13 case studies to understand VPC seed systems for roots, tubers and bananas. Seeds are usually available before an intervention, but the quality and quantity may be an issue for some farmers. Seeds in interventions are often subsidized or given away to make it affordable. These new seeds often meets farmers’s demands for quality. However, seed of susceptible varieties may become re-infected soon after it is cleaned of disease. Clean seed for small farms can be a missed opportunity, unless local communities are involved to implement on-farm management practices locally. Reviewed seed interventions often linked different stakeholders in mutually beneficial ways. Further refinement of the framework is needed, e.g. to ensure an integrated gender analysis. By using the framework, seed interventions may be able to link with the appropriate actors in existing seed markets.