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Formal and informal seed systems in Kenya - implications for biosafety regulation


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Biosafety Regulation: Opening up the debate -Lessons from Kenya and Philippines …

Biosafety Regulation: Opening up the debate -Lessons from Kenya and Philippines

Workshop in Kenya, 15 - 16 November 2010

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  • 1. Living in parallel Worlds? Lessons from FAC and STEPS research on formal and formal seed systems in Kenya – implications for biosafety regulation in practice
    • Workshop held at the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)
    • 15-16 November 2010
    • Hannington Odame
    • CABE – Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE)
    • Email:
  • 2. Key messages
    • Both formal and informal seed systems are important channels for delivering cereal seeds to Kenyan farmers --but the policy frameworks, which are informed by international seed policies and conventions, tend to favour the formal systems.
    • Co converging notion of the ‘agro-dealer’ as the carrier of improved seeds to farmers -- but due to different politics and interests, actors also support parallel activities seem to undermine development and expansion of the agro-dealer network in some places.
    • Capacity building for agro-dealers is useful –but if agro-dealers are to deliver a GR in Kenya, capacity training programmes for agro-dealers should not only target the business owners but also ‘managers’
    • T he universalising of agro-dealer narrative in GR programmes overlooks the heterogeneity of the ‘poor smallholder farmers’ and agro-dealers themselves. –Thus meeting the needs of farmers in lower potential areas require developing innovative alternative business models.
    • The GR programmes have been viewed by critics as a ‘Trojan horse’ for genetically modified (GM) seeds or simply a strategy to ‘roll out a gene revolution’ in Africa –But careful consideration is needed before loading agro-dealers with even greater responsibilities and expectations.
  • 3. Background
    • Cereals grown in Kenya: maize, wheat, sorghum, millet, rice, barley and oats;
    • Maize occupies about 50% of total cultivated area & 78 percent of cereal area;
    • Following liberalization, cereal production has remained below consumption requirement;
    • Government and partners have called for a ‘Green Revolution’ (GR) to reverse this trend;
    • Among key strategies is increased generation, promotion & use of modern inputs & technologies;
    • Agro-dealers’ role in distributing inputs has earned them recognition in the recent past.
  • 4. Cereal Seed Systems
    • Seed systems
      • Formal – Mainly supplies maize seed and high rainfall areas
      • Informal – Mainly supplies seed of other cereals and low rainfall areas
    • Main Actors
      • Ministry of Agriculture
      • KEPHIS
      • Research Institutions
      • Seed Companies
      • Donors/NGOs
      • Farmers
  • 5. Field and Panel Data Sites Sakai, Mbooni East – Low Potential Likuyani, Kakamega – High Potential Ngecha, Nakuru – Medium Potential
  • 6. STEPS and FAC research on seed systems
    • STEPS: Concerns about maize innovation and climate change
    • Phase 1: Characterising and analysing responses to dynamic changes in different agroecologies (low, medium and High):
    • Phase 2: Multicriteria mapping of ‘pathways in and out of maize’
    • 9 core pathways in drought-prone farming regions (viz. Sakai):
    • FAC: Political economy of Cereal Seed Systems in Kenya
    • Phase 1: Can Agro-dealers Deliver The Green Revolution in Kenya?
    • Phase 2: The political economy issues of agro-dealers delivering genetically modified (GM) cereal seeds in Kenya?
  • 7. Issues in STEPS: Phase I & II
    • ‘ Why maize?’  understanding the ‘lock in’ to the dominant maize pathway; revealing alternative pathways
    • ‘ Resilience’ and scale?
      • ‘ High potential’ – hybrids/intensification and commercialisation/aggregate production and national food security
      • ‘ Low potential’ – OPVs/ diversification/ context responsiveness
    • ‘ Parallel universes’? – innovation systems and upward linkages from farmers to breeders and donors  local knowledge, feedback on adoption/disadoption/ preferences are missing – how to build the connections?
  • 8. Typology of Pathways 1 – Alternative dryland staples for subsistence 2 – Alternative dryland staples for market 3 – local improvement of local maize 5 – Assisted seed multiplication of maize 4 – Assisted seed multiplication of alternative dryland staples 6 – Individual high-value crop commercialization 7 – Group-based high-value crop commercialization 8 – Commercial delivery of new DT maize varieties 9 – Public delivery of new DT maize varieties See Briefing Paper 3 for details Low Maize High Maize Low- External Input High- External Input
  • 9. Living in parallel worlds or bridging informal and formal seed systems?
    • Formal seed System
    • Need for a GR in Kenya (Africa) ‏
    • Need for increased use of modern farming inputs – requires increased access by farmers
      • Agro-dealers needed to supply inputs & information (photos) ‏
    • Informal seed system
    • Informal seed systems or farmers seed systems depend on the free exchange of seeds either through small gifts, barter exchange or sale.
    • Systems provide 80-100% of seed ‏ requirements
    • Majority of the genetic diversity maintained on-farm is managed by small scale agriculture in which farmers’ seed systems dominate
    A farmer buying improved maize seed from an agro-dealer Seed selector, Sakai On seed selectors... the law is silent. But we know they are there. They play an important role in food security” (Regulator, January 2009):
  • 10. Informal seed systems in Sakai
    • Strengths
    • Affordable and availability of varieties with low external input use
    • Varieties are e arly maturing, drought tolerant and more pest-resistant
    • Existing traditional knowledge in seed selection, seed preservation, Seed bulking and seed banking
    • Limits:
    • Limited availability of required qualities especially after droughts, low market prices and narrow distribution span
    • Low yields, genetic erosion, emergence of new pests, drought
    • Limited availability germplasm, u n-assured seed quality, problem of seed differentiation, ack of capacity for community- based production,
    • Lack of recognition by government. seeds
  • 11. Policy Options for Informal seed systems
    • Policy options:
    • R&D in preservation and conservation of local varieties
    • Options for regulating informal systems-legal framework to recognize informal systems –especially it is suggested that the Seeds and Plant Variety Act Cap 326 should be reviewed.
    • Capacity building-interlinking formal and informal system on production, storage and distribution
  • 12. Formal Seed Systems
    • Strengths
    • Systems mainly deal with hybrids and specialized horticultural crops
    • National Seed Policy is based UPOV 1978, Cap 326 under review
    • Assured seed quality
    • Kenyan formal (e.g. Hybrid maize) is recognised as good seed –with penetration to regional markets (Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, southern Sudan)
    • Limits:
    • Certified seeds accounts for 20% (35,000 MT) of the total seed use
    • S eed maize accounting for about 80% of the total quantity
    • most of the breeders are improved seed maize
    • Limited formal seed systems reach in low rainfall areas
  • 13. Agro-dealer Participation in GR: Programmes & Actors
    • Remarks
    • Program narratives: Low agricultural production
      • linked to farmers’ lack of access to inputs
    • Challenges: Targeting, Agro-dealers lack capacity (capital) ‏
    • More benefits for high rainfall areas & larger agro-dealers
    • ‘ Parallel’ government programs bypassing agro-dealers
    Programme Implemented by Donor Kenya Agro-dealer Strengthening Programme (KASP) ‏ CNFA/AGMARK, GoK, Equity Bank AGRA,IFAD National Accelerated Agricultural Inputs Access Programme (NAAIAP) ‏ MoA, CNFA/AGMARK, Equity GoK Maize Seed for the Poor (MSP) ‏ CIMMYT, IFPRI, KARI, STAK, Equity USAID, ASTA
  • 14. Policy implication for biosafety regulation and practice
    • Regulation: R egulations are concerned only with formal seed supply channels – they by-pass the informal seed systems
    • Acceptance: If GM seeds are of hybrid type then thy are unlikely fit into the informal seed system because farmers have always to buy a fresh seed system and cannot be multiplied
    • Seed and info delivery: Agro-dealers of the future will deliver novel technologies and allied information for a uniquely GR such as GM seed -- But careful consideration is needed before loading agro-dealers with even greater responsibilities and expectations.
    • Capacity: Biosafety regulation has been focused on capacity building at the national level and, so far, not with farmers and intermediaries
    • Awareness: Some farmers have been sensitized against use of GM seeds and therefore, agro-dealers may find themselves at crossroads.
  • 15. Summary:
    • Is informal seed system a distinct system or a ‘stage’ in transition to formal seed system?
    • Do assisted informal seed programs important in improved seed use or seed production?
  • 16. Thank You (Asante Sana!)
    • Contact Address:
    • Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE)
    • Email: