Comparative Study of Three Community Seed Supply Strategies in Tanzania

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Community seed production projects are being implemented throughout Africa. This case study compares three such projects in central Tanzania. All three programmes seek to encourage small-scale farmers to produce and sell sorghum and pearl millet varieties, but use different approaches to solve the common problems of seed multiplication and distribution. The three projects were relatively successful in promoting seed production. Training was provided in seed quality control, and growers generally understood the differences between seed and grain. However, questions remain about the practicality of producing certified seed, quality declared seed, or common grade seed. External investments remain necessary for the production and delivery of source seed. The biggest threat to the viability of these programmes is the problem of seed marketing. While farmers are expected to sell seed to their neighbours, most sought marketing assistance from external buyers. Further investments are still needed in testing alternative marketing strategies. This study highlights a number of policy issues. None of the three programmes is likely to continue without external technical support and funding. The appropriate, long-term levels of public investment need to be defined. In addition, the relationship between public and private sector investments in seed production and distribution needs to be more explicitly defined.

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