Market-led interventions in Emergency Seed Security Response: Where are the cases?

Work on seed systems has shown how pivotal markets are for helping smallholder farmers access seed in both normal and stress periods. This review focuses on the current and future potential use of markets to support smallholder farmer seed security in emergency and chronic stress contexts.

Our discussion and findings are based on case portfolio of ten cases that have been identified as being relevant to this market-led review of seed security work. They are drawn from eight countries (Afghanistan, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia) and include nine crops (common beans, groundnuts, maize, millet, potato, soya, sorghum, sweet potato, and wheat).

In terms of market-led support on the supply side, the review found a good number of cases focusing on formal sector market support and especially on ensuring availability, often of modern varieties. Seed suppliers of varied types were contracted to produce seed — which was subsequently bought back by governments or NGOs and then given free to farmers. This type of intervention occurred especially in contexts deemed as chronically seed insecure, and this practice (“contract multiplication – buyback – give free) was frequently repetitive – 2-3 consecutive years or more. A variant of formal sector market support involved giving credit to agro-dealers – who themselves then procured and sold seed directly (albeit with a partial subsidy, via vouchers). This variant had elements of sustainability and linking relief to development in that a customer base directly interfaced in the market (agro-dealer) provider.

Market-led support initiatives on the supply side, oriented to the informal seed sector are far less known. This review work could not document a single in-depth case, although there were anecdotes of donors giving grants to support informal traders to improve the quality of their seed in emergency and normal periods.

See new analysis for a detailed case intervention description.

  1. Do you know other cases of market-led support linked to seed security response in crisis periods?
  2. Has this been formal seed market support? Informal seed market support?

We are eager to hear more of these practical experiences.