Comparative Analysis of Seed Systems in Niger and Senegal. Working Paper Series no. 3 uri icon


  • This paper is part of a continuing research effort at ICRISAT to explore innovative strategies to accelerate adoption of improved technologies in the semi-arid tropics. Earlier studies in West and Central Africa have indicated that seed supply systems there function poorly and are therefore a major constraint to adoption of improved varieties. However, uptake of improved varieties and profitability of seed systems significantly differ from country to country and from crop to crop. This analysis attempts to assess the factors explaining these differences in seed sector performance, especially of groundnut and pearl millet in Niger and Senegal. It also draws useful lessons that could serve donors and policymakers in strengthening the capacity of these systems to meet the needs of small-scale farmers. Research results show that the Senegalese formal seed system performs relatively better at supplying seed of improved groundnut varieties to small-holder farmers and is comparatively more financially sustainable than its Niger counterpart. However, in the case of pearl millet, the seed systems of both the countries performed poorly. These differences are largely explained by the level of development of the seed distribution network and the degree of input-output market integration. Interlinked credit and trade contracts for input and output markets can enhance adoption of new varieties by small-holder farmers. Results also indicate that the informal seed systems in both these countries provide access for small-scale farmers to a large range of existing varieties. These systems supply most of the seed sown by farmers at low transaction costs, and the seed quality is surprisingly good. These systems could be strengthened by ensuring access to seed of new varieties, and possibly by improving seed flows from surplus to deficit regions after drought. Formal seed systems do not perform well unless they are linked with satisfactorily functioning product markets. While these systems will remain the major source of new improved varieties, an element of targeted subsidy may be needed to improve access to new varieties. Otherwise, seed markets need to be built on the foundation of seed supply of more commercialized crops

publication date

  • 2000