Policies for African seed enterprise development
The commercial seed sector has been slow to develop in sub-Saharan Africa. The paper examines the major impediments and identifies areas in which seed policies can be strengthened. Seed enterprise development has been hampered by regulatory frameworks that favor parastatal enterprises and that inhibit commercial innovation. In addition, government and donor projects provide large amounts of free or subsidized seed that further discourages seed enterprise development. In addition to regulatory reform and the curtailment of many seed distribution projects, there are other policy changes that need to be implemented. National agricultural research institutes need to invest more resources in promoting their varieties and helping to stimulate commercial seed production. Greater emphasis is required on regional strategies for public plant breeding and private seed marketing. National policies need to strengthen input marketing capacity and infrastructure. Finally, donors, governments and NGOs should shift from trying to encourage village-level commercial seed production and instead strengthen farmers’ capacities to assess new varieties and to be effective consumers of commercial inputs.