Why do maize farmers in Ghana have a limited choice of improved seed varieties? An assessment of the governance challenges in seed supply

Poku, Adu-Gyamfi, Birner, Regina, and Saurabh Gupta 2018. Why do maize farmers in Ghana have a limited choice of improved seed varieties? An assessment of the governance challenges in seed supply. Food Security. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-017-0749-0.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12571-017-0749-0

Abstarct

The liberalisation of commercial seed systems has largely been seen as an essential means of improving agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, access to improved seed varieties has remained a major constraint in many countries in spite of liberalisation and other reform efforts. This paper analyses the governance challenges involved in seed systems from a theoretical and an empirical perspective. The paper applies theoretical concepts of New Institutional Economics to identify potential governance challenges involved at the different stages of the seed supply system. The commercial maize seed sector in Ghana is used for an empirical case study. Ghana has passed a seed law that aims to increase the availability of improved seed varieties to farmers by providing more opportunities to the private sector. However, there is still a chronic lack of varietal diversity, indicating that governance challenges in the seed system remain despite the reform efforts. For data collection, a participatory mapping technique known as Process Net-Map was applied, together with expert interviews involving a diverse set of stakeholders. The empirical evidence reveals that, in line with the theoretical considerations, governance challenges indeed affect all stages of the seed supply system. These challenges include limited involvement of smallholders in setting breeding priorities, restricted private sector participation in source seed production, limited ability of an under-resourced public regulatory body to ensure high seed quality through mandatory seed certification and overdependence on a weak public extension system to promote improved varieties. The paper discusses the policy implications of the findings.

Keywords

Seed systems; Governance challenges; Varietal development; Seed production; Seed quality; Ghana