Webinar: Strengthening developing-country seed systems and markets. Policy trade-offs, unintended consequences, and operational realities


by PIM | September 29, 2017


Webinar overview

Photo: Melissa Cooperman / IFPRI

The genetic improvement of food staple crops is a well-established means of increasing agricultural productivity and improving rural livelihoods in the smallholder production systems that characterize agriculture in many developing countries. Seed systems and markets are the key avenue through which these genetic improvements are delivered to farmers, and many developing countries have policies, regulations, and investments to govern and manage varietal development, seed production, and distribution. But throughout the developing world—and especially in countries where seed markets are commercially vibrant or advancing in that direction—we observe competing narratives around how best to build an innovative, dynamic, and sustainable seed system. We argue that many of these narratives are overly simplistic, and that crop- and context-specific solutions offer a more appropriate approach to the challenge. Such an approach requires greater attention to the metrics used to analyze seed system performance, competition, and innovation; the public policy and regulatory reform options required to advance seed market growth; and the economic trade-offs, unintended consequences, and operational challenges of such reforms and investments.

This webinar explores novel approaches to strengthening seed systems and markets, including policies related to varietal release procedures, quality assurance, access to early generation seed, input subsidy programs, among several others. It draws on examples from a range of crops cultivated in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Zambia from which we generate insights on, inter alia, where private sector seed distribution models are working well, where regulations facilitate quicker varietal release and more rapid turnover, and where quality assurance mechanisms provide effective oversight without inhibiting incentives to produce and distribute quality seed.

About the presenter

David J. Spielman joined the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in 2004, and is currently a senior research fellow at the Environment and Production Technology division, based in Washington, DC. His research agenda covers a range of topics including agricultural science, technology and innovation policy; seed systems and input markets; and community-driven rural development. Prior to this, David was posted to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with IFPRI’s Knowledge, Innovation, and Capacity Division. Earlier in his career, he worked on agriculture and rural development issues for the World Bank (Washington, D.C.), the Aga Khan Development Network (Pakistan), and several other organizations. His work maintains a regional emphasis on East Africa and South Asia.

David received a Ph.D. in Economics from American University in 2003, an M.Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics in 1993, and a B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University in 1992.

About PIM webinars
The PIM webinars aim to share findings of PIM’s research, discuss their application, and get feedback and suggestions from participants. Webinars are conducted by PIM researchers in the form of research seminars. Each webinar is a live event consisting of a presentation (30 min) and a facilitated Q&A session (30 min).

Other PIM Webinars in 2017

The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index – What have we learned?
November 17, 2017. Presenters: Hazel Malapit, Senior Research Coordinator, IFPRI, and Cheryl Doss, Senior Departmental Lecturer in Development Economics, Department of International Development, Oxford University.

What determines public budgets for agricultural growth in the developing world?
September 26, 2017. Presenter: Tewodaj Mogues, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI

Community forestry. Where and why has devolution of forest rights contributed to better governance and livelihoods?
August 29, 2017. Presenter: Steven Lawry, Director, Equal Opportunities, Gender, Justice, and Tenure, CIFOR

What levels and composition of investment best serve global objectives of sustainable development?
June 28, 2017. Presenter: Mark Rosegrant, Director of the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

The rise of medium-scale farms in Africa
May 23, 2017. Presenter: Prof. Thomas Jayne, MSU