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Published by Dr. Adu-Gyamfi Poku

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

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.

Adu-Gyamfi Poku, Regina Birner, Saurabh Gupta
Food Security