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The Seed Constraint: New approaches for smallholder agriculture in eastern and southern Africa

Monyo, E.S., Ganga Rao, N.V.P.R., Ojiewo, C., Simtowe, F., Rubyogo, J.C., Varshney, R.K.ORCID: 0000-0002-4562-9131 and Gowda, C.L.L. (2014) The Seed Constraint: New approaches for smallholder agriculture in eastern and southern Africa. In: Harnessing Chickpea Value Chain for Nutrition Security and Commercialization of Smallholder Agriculture in Africa, 30 Jan - 1 Feb 2014, Debra Zeit, Ethiopia

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Pilot interventions through the Tropical Legumes II (TL-II) Project have shown promise in making new varieties available to farmers who depend on the farmer seed system. These initiatives which includes community seed schemes, seed recovery and seed bank schemes, seed fairs, contracting schemes, small seed packs, etc being promoted under TL-II, are further developed, and linked to participatory research, where farmers are directly involved in variety selection and testing. R&D agencies linked through TL-II implementation are designing and testing demand-driven seed supply strategies, which provide the necessary incentives for farmers to buy seed from the marketplace. The alternative approaches described above are based on two propositions; that different approaches are required for different crops and that we must lay greater emphasis on stimulating seed demand rather than focusing exclusively on seed supply. This report describes the legume seed dissemination strategies used for chickpea in Ethiopia, and groundnut and pigeonpea in Malawi and Tanzania and other TL-II focus countries. Preliminary research results from TL-II baseline studies in all three countries found that there was very limited awareness about improved legume varieties, and that neither public- nor private-sector interventions to produce and market legume seeds had a successful track record in these countries. To overcome these constraints investments have been made in breeder and foundation seed production, and proceeds from seed sales used to re-capitalize seed revolving funds that are then used to support subsequent seed production cycles.

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