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.
‘ 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?
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
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):
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
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.