Monyo, E.S.

An analysis of seed systems development, with special reference to smallholder farmers in Southern Africa: issues and challenges - Mexico, DF (Mexico) CIMMYT : 2004 - p. 3-10 - Printed

Most smallholder farmers living in drought-prone regions of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) continue to rely on drought relief and informal farmer-to- farmer exchange to obtain seed of improved varieties. Well over 90% of smallholder farmers' requirements are met through these channels. It is therefore important to give due recognition to the informal sector a low-cost source of seed, and to use it as a vehicle for providing resource-poor farmers with improved seed of modern varieties at affordable prices. Thls raises questions about the viability of commercial seed production and trade for smallholder crops- particularly sorghum, millets, beans, cowpea, bambaranut, pigeonpea, groundnut and open-pollinated maize varieties (OPVs)-in drought prone areas. Hybrid seed of maize and sorghum is more widely produced and marketed throughout the region, but seed of open pollinated varieties is only produced in anticipation of emergency purchases by governments and NGOs. Private seed companies voice concerns about the level and consistency of demand by the smallholder farmers for seed of open pollinated varieties. These concerns are reinforced by the continuing practice of delivering seed through non- commercial channels. During the past 25 years, national programs in the SADC region, in partnership with international agricultural research centers, have released a number of varieties. Some of these are exceHent candidates for regional use and therefore multi-country release, if a regional policy existed. This would create a much larger potential market, making it more economical for the few active private seed companies ifi'the region to deal with smallholder, communal, semiarid tropical crops, as well as maize OPV s. Stringent phytosanitary rules and lack of harmonization of seed regulations across countries have made it harder for the smallholder farmer to gain access to seed of these research products. Innovative, community-based seed production and distribution strategies, coupled with policies supportive of regional variety registration and release, will have a positive effect on smallholder access to the products of international centers and national programs.



Beans phaseolus vulgaris
Crop husbandry
Seed production
Small farms
Southern Africa

338.1768 / SET

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