The need to practically embrace the informal sector as the main source of seeds in Africa is expressed in most national seed policies and strategies. To translate that intention into concrete reality will, however, need considerable innovations, requiring judicious and skillful interventions in the various seed systems in the informal sector, while maintaining the indigenous knowledge, adaptability, utilization advantages and other parameters which make the informal seed sector attractive to most African farmers. Benefits from a comprehensive harnessing exercise will include the following.
- It will lead to entrenching more indigenous varieties in African agriculture.
- By a gradual incorporation of seed quality standards, more and more informal seed sector operators would enter into commercialized transactions, improve the size of seed supply and demand, and consequently also improve the size of the fledgling seed industry across Africa.
AfricaSeeds will, in collaboration with all its partners, work towards the practical implementation of the harnessing of the informal seed sector in famers’ fields. In that context, AfricaSeeds will address the issue not in the sense of pitching the informal sector against the formal sector, but rather, in consideration that all seed systems are part of a continuum which contributes severally and collectively to enhance the efficiencies of the seed supply in Africa for the achievement of seed security in Member States.
Basic Principles for Harnessing the Informal Seed Sector
The potentials of the various systems that make up the informal sector should be exploited in an effective and sustainable manner, through appropriate and targeted interventions. Thus, specific objectives will be in relation to the respective assets of the various systems in the informal sector, and their potentials to contribute to the seed supply in Africa.
On that basis AfricaSeeds proposes the following diagram below in which specific areas identified in the different seed systems of the informal sector are targeted for interventions that will render the harnessing process to be relevant and effective.