The sustainable production of Early Generation Seed (which includes pre-basic/foundation seed and basic seed) is one bottleneck to increasing the availability of new varieties for farmers. Under which conditions is it profitable to produce sweetpotato EGS, and who is best placed to do it? Srini Rajendran and Margaret McEwan (International Potato Center and CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas) are determining the cost of producing sweetpotato EGS as part of developing a sustainable business.

Thanks to readers who commented on the first sweetpotato EGS blog about understanding farmer demand. Commenters discussed the importance of clean planting material and why farmers might buy it: to address disease, get new varieties, or for high quality roots.

Today, Srini and Margaret discuss ideas on effective marketing strategies for sweetpotato seed – which is bulky, perishable and costly to transport.

Effective seed marketing strategies are key to sustaining a profitable business. Some of the NARIs now use a differentiated pricing strategy depending on: firstly, the market segment they are targeting (e.g. institutional markets such as government programs or NGOs; or individual multipliers who are the next link in the seed chain); and secondly, whether orders are placed and paid for in advance. Institutional buyers are the major customers for sweetpotato EGS. However, they may then provide this seed free to multipliers, and/or provide demand-side subsidies so that farmers can receive free or discounted seed. This leads to market distortions. We would like to explore what type of push-and-pull strategies might be used to increase demand for quality EGS.

What experiences can members share for successful marketing strategies, remembering that sweetpotato cuttings are bulky, perishable and costly to transport? Readers are invited to provide insight in the comments section below.

Acknowledgement: This research was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). Implementation was led by CIP. Funding support was provided by the SASHA2 project.

“Quality starts at source”. Pathogen tested tissue culture plantlets under micro-propagation for pre-basic seed production at Crop Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana. Credit Dr. Marian D. Quain.