Smallholders often have limited access to quality seeds of improved varieties, which would otherwise benefit them immensely in terms of crop security and resilience to weather fluctuations. Despite numerous efforts and investments made in plant breeding by the public sector, many smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia still plant low-quality seeds of the same varieties that have been used by previous generations.
The White Paper commissioned by Crops to End Hunger, a One CGIAR initiative, identified several bottlenecks to commercial seed delivery. These obstacles can be broadly classified as being:
policy and regulatory barriers which hinder variety release;
insufficient understanding of target markets;
lack of technical and business capacity of small and medium seed enterprises;
and the need to define clearer roles and responsibilities between One CGIAR, National Breeding Programs and commercial seed companies in a changing landscape.
The limited access to quality seeds of improved varieties represents a significant barrier for achieving higher yields and improved livelihoods for farmers. This is a major risk for farmers, especially as it limits their ability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
SFSA is thus designing a toolkit that contains the know-how, some best practices, and a set of tools to secure the positioning of any new varieties at the farmgate.
The toolkit is for:
breeding practitioners who will have access to free resources to successfully navigate the steps needed to take for farmers to adopt seeds of improved varieties. The commercialization toolkit will describe and explain all the necessary procedures and activities that lead to a successful launch of a new variety.
potential investors and donors who will gain a greater understanding of the steps and cost associated with commercializing new varieties through public and/or private partnerships.
Future steps & components of the toolkit
The toolkit has been internally launched at SFSA in July 2023. Access to the toolkit is set to be soon publicly and freely available on a website that will allow the user to navigate the activities along a Product development process. Templates will be available for download as needed and training will be developed for the most complex topics. The outlining of variety commercialization strategies in the toolkit encourages and ensures the professionalization of key players in the seed sector.