From Seed Policy to Practice:
Perspectives from Malawi
Blessings Chinsinga
FAC Malawi & Centre for Social Research (CSR)
U...
Outline of Presentation
• Setting the context
• The policy and legislative framework
• Context matters: politics, incentiv...
Setting the Context
• An attempt to tell a story about how ‘practice’ shaped by context
(politics, incentives and interest...
Setting the Context Cont’d
• These developments have ultimately led to the development of a seed
industry:
– That is narro...
Policy and Legislative Framework
• Seed industry in Malawi is relatively young compared to countries
like Kenya and Zimbab...
Policy and Legislative Framework Cont’d
• Hybrid maize adoption rose from 7 to 24 percent during the
1988-1992 period befo...
Policy and Legislative Framework Cont’d
• Broadly distinguished into formal and informal seed systems served
by a wide ran...
Context Matters: Politics, Incentives and Interests
• Necessary reforms that would have made liberalization to produce
the...
Politics, Incentives and Interests Cont’d
• Most of the local seed companies depend on products coming
through the nationa...
0
5000
10000
15000
20000
25000
30000
2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/...
0
500
1000
1500
2000
2500
3000
3500
4000
4500
5000
2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12...
Politics, Incentives and Interests Cont’d
• Created a maize seed system dominated by hybrid due to a
coincidence of intere...
Politics, Incentives and Interests Cont’d
• Local seed companies cannot effectively compete with their
multinational count...
Concluding Remarks
• Malawi’s experiences clearly demonstrate that context really
matters in understanding how policy refo...
From Seed Policy to Practice: Perspectives from Malawi
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From Seed Policy to Practice: Perspectives from Malawi

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From Seed Policy to Practice: Perspectives from Malawi by Blessings Chinsinga

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From Seed Policy to Practice: Perspectives from Malawi

  1. 1. From Seed Policy to Practice: Perspectives from Malawi Blessings Chinsinga FAC Malawi & Centre for Social Research (CSR) University of Malawi, Chancellor College P.O Box 278, Zomba, MALAWI E-mail: kchinsinga@yahoo.co.uk Regional Seed Dialogue, Jacaranda Hotel, July 14-15 2014, Nairobi, Kenya
  2. 2. Outline of Presentation • Setting the context • The policy and legislative framework • Context matters: politics, incentives and interests • Concluding remarks
  3. 3. Setting the Context • An attempt to tell a story about how ‘practice’ shaped by context (politics, incentives and interests) diverges from the cherished policy ideals • Viewed in totality, the seed policy and legislative framework including pending reforms, seek to establish a seed system that is pluralistic, inclusive and responsive to the needs of the Malawian farmer • The underlying goal of the Malawi’s seed system is to ensure consistency and reliability in the supply of quality seed to farmers and support the government to achieve food security, self sufficiency and decent export revenue • The ‘practice’ on the ground is, however, different shaped by the liberalization of the seed industry in the 1990s and the implementation of successful input support programmes notably the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)
  4. 4. Setting the Context Cont’d • These developments have ultimately led to the development of a seed industry: – That is narrowly focused in terms of product portfolio privileging multinational seed companies – Supported by donors principally as a strategy to promote private sector development in the agricultural sector – Captured by a wide range of elites through inter alia, agro-dealership and seed production – And marginally serving the interests of the farmer • The main argument of this presentation is that context (politics, incentives and interests) matter a great deal in determining whether reforms in the seed sector succeed or not • The Malawi experience suggests that often the interests and incentives of domestic elites and international agencies coalesce to produce stagnation especially if reforms are introduced as signals that ensure that developing countries attain and retain support and legitimacy • The implication is that effective policy processes must be grounded in an understanding of economic, social, political and institutional factors that drive or block pro-poor change through a problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA), an approach rooted in a focus on context specific understanding of problems as an entry point for change
  5. 5. Policy and Legislative Framework • Seed industry in Malawi is relatively young compared to countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe • Attributed to the fact that Malawi did not experience a deeply entrenched white settler community that demanded high yielding crop varieties • Depended largely on seed imports from Zimbabwe until 1978 when the National Seed Company of Malawi (NSCM) was established at the behest of the World Bank and FAO • Estate farmers did not demand improvements in crop varieties especially maize especially because they grew it mainly for purposes of feeding tenants • Establishment of NSCM eventually led to what has been described as a hybrid revolution in Malawi following the discovery of MH 17 and MH 18, hybrid varieties that responded to smallholder farmers’ preferences of taste, storability and poundability
  6. 6. Policy and Legislative Framework Cont’d • Hybrid maize adoption rose from 7 to 24 percent during the 1988-1992 period before the seed industry was eventually liberalized in 1996 • Seed industry in Malawi is regulated by the Seed Act 1988 as amended in 1996 (providing for liberalization) and as amended in 2004 though the latter amendments are yet to be enacted • Seed industry is further governed by the 1993 Seed Policy which, inter alia, emphasizes the importance of a pluralistic and sustainable seed industry • The policy and the Act are further supplemented by Seed Regulations, 1994 (Act No.5 of 1988) Seed (Declaration of Prescribed Seed) Order 1997
  7. 7. Policy and Legislative Framework Cont’d • Broadly distinguished into formal and informal seed systems served by a wide range of stakeholders • Key actors include: 1) farmers involved in seed exchanges; 2) farmer associations working mainly through the Association of Smallholder Seed Multiplication Action Group (ASSMAG); 3) various NGOs involved in seed multiplication and relief projects; 4) local seed companies; and 5) multinational seed companies • Both local and multinational seed companies have constituted themselves into the Seed Traders Association of Malawi (STAM) as self regulatory body established in 2004 • Seed widely distributed through agro-dealers widely touted as a mechanism for ensuring that farmers access quality seed within easy reach but more importantly as a strategy for institutionalizing a private sector driven agricultural sector
  8. 8. Context Matters: Politics, Incentives and Interests • Necessary reforms that would have made liberalization to produce the desired strategic impact have stalled – Plant Breeders Right (PBR) legislation drafted in 2007 is still stuck in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs – Biodiversity Bill drafted as early as 2002 is equally stuck in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs – Succeeded to enact the Biosafety Act 2002 and Biosafety Regulations and Biosafety Policy of 2007 principally out of necessity to deal with the hunger crisis in 2002 • Liberalization has ultimately produced a seed industry that is dominated by multinational seed companies who control up to 90 percent of the market • Local seed companies cannot effectively compete because the national breeding programme is marginalized due to limited funding hence often not able to produce adequate foundation seed for consequent multiplication
  9. 9. Politics, Incentives and Interests Cont’d • Most of the local seed companies depend on products coming through the national breeding programme • Multinational companies cannot work with the national breeding programme on the pretext of the absence of PBRs hence Malawi continues to get seed that is bred elsewhere • Donors are reluctant to fund the national breeding programme on the account of promoting vibrant private sector involvement in the agricultural sector • Situation compounded by the implementation of successive input programmes: namely: 1) Agricultural Investment Programme (APIP) (1995); 2) Starter Pack (1998-2000); Targeted Input Programme (TIP) (2001-2004); Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) (2005 to date) • FISP has had significant impact in shaping the seed industry in Malawi
  10. 10. 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 Hybrid OPV Total Maize Source: Seed Traders Association of Malawi (STAM) (2014) Hybrid and OPV Maize Seed in Metric Tonnes, 2003-2014
  11. 11. 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 Groundnuts Beans Soya Legume Seed Availability in MT, 2003-2014
  12. 12. Politics, Incentives and Interests Cont’d • Created a maize seed system dominated by hybrid due to a coincidence of interests between donors, seed companies and government officials although for different reasons – Donors are obsessed with the promotion of private sector development in the agricultural sector – Seed companies are interested in expanding their market share of their products-hybrid maize since companies participate in FISP not on the basis of a competitive tender but simply their capacity – Government officials are interested in finding a quick fixe to the question of food security that lies at the heart of Malawi’s political economy – The supply of legume seed only dramatically improved after 2012 because of a special presidential initiative on hunger and poverty reduction by former President Joyce Banda • Implementation of FISP has created a privileged group of local elites that are capturing the benefits as agro-dealers and contract seed producers
  13. 13. Politics, Incentives and Interests Cont’d • Local seed companies cannot effectively compete with their multinational counterparts not only because of the limited viability of national breeding programme (breeders have essentially privatized themselves) but also because they depend on the seed processing equipment of the multinational companies • Farmers not still served better through agro-dealers since the majority of them are seasonal, linked to FISP – Companies withdrawal excess seed at the close of the FISP season – And most of the agro-dealers disappear only to resurface at the start of the next FISP season • Farmers are clearly losers: getting a narrow range of products but in addition this narrow range of products is not readily accessible throughout the year yet seed is quite critical to the sustainable agricultural productivity
  14. 14. Concluding Remarks • Malawi’s experiences clearly demonstrate that context really matters in understanding how policy reforms actually play out in practice • Reforms are thus not simply a question of promoting a preset toolkit of best practices and blueprint of institutional reforms • This underscores the fact that policymaking process can be understood as a succession of bargains among stakeholders interacting in formal and informal arenas often with outcomes radically different from those projected in official documents • Context therefore really matters since achieving policy and institutional change is not simply a question of what to do but also how to do it as underpinned by Malawi’s experiences • The issue therefore is that policy processes should be preoccupied by attempts to identify where the main opportunities and barriers for policy reform exist and how stakeholders can use their influence and programmes to influence positive change • Overall, the main concern is that the existing evidence seem to suggest that no country has ever managed to achieve let alone sustain a green revolution without a domestic seed industry
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