Feed the Future
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4 Things to Keep in Mind When Creating Policies to Scale Smallholder Access to Quality Seeds

Mark Huisenga discusses seed policy at June's Ag Sector Council seminar.

The June Ag Sector Council seminar explored policy considerations for improving seed systems and featured Mark Huisenga from the Bureau for Food Security, Pradeep Prabhala from Monitor Deloitte and Charlee Doom from USAID East Africa. Pradeep introduced a new USAID-funded study that examines the potential efficiencies of different types of seed systems, and Charlee discussed the benefits of seed harmonization—bringing in examples from her current work with COMESA.

In case you missed it, here are a few important take-aways from the event:

1. Different types of seed fall into discrete economic archetypes.

A new study by Monitor Deloitte has found that different market systems best support the distribution of different seeds, depending upon the variety. The private and public sectors both have roles to play in getting early generation seeds out to farmers, but the ways in which they can support these market systems will need to vary. In the case of legumes, for example, that do not have a large commercial demand but are important for food security, the public sector likely should play a bigger role. Supporting the market system that is most appropriate in a given situation will offer the best results when attempting to scale farmer access to improved varieties.

2. Across all archetypes, actors need to make strategic trade-offs in a way that results in a more efficient allocation of resources for all stakeholders.

This study provides a great framework for beginning conversations with governments around where the private sector is useful, and where the government will have to invest. Each sector will need to make tradeoffs for a more efficient seed system, and the framework that this study lays out it useful in illustrating these decision points.

3. For seed harmonization, private sector and other stakeholder buy-in and commitment is critical.

Seed harmonization is a good way to work with many sectors to improve the market system through policy, but it demands buy-in from a number of different players. As Charlee described it, passing a policy is the end of the beginning in this process- because having a policy isn't enough. It must be followed up with activities that nationalize and domesticate that policy.

4. Harmonization is beneficial to smallholder farmers and expands seed ventures.

Garnering buy-in from a variety of stakeholder includes holding conversations with actors like the private sector and civil society. Harmonization will ultimately be beneficial to these actors, and they should be brought into the conversation.

Check out the resources on the “Creating Policies for Scaling Smallholder Access to Quality Seed” event page to learn more!