Strategic Options for Small-scale Maize Seed System Development in West and Central Africa

"Seed can play a critical role in increasing agricultural productivity. It is an essential, strategic and an inexpensive input that often determines crop yields and the productivity of all other agricultural inputs. Taking into consideration the importance of seed in agriculture, a key question is how to facilitate the development of a seed system. Such a system should be able to produce and distribute new seed varieties that meet the needs of all farmers cost effectively. The study identified the constraints in maize seed production. It also identified the criteria used by farmers to select seed for production. As part of its recommendations, the study has developed strategies that would integrate informal and formal maize seed production. A key finding of the study is that a seed system that links seed companies with individual seed producers seems to be the best option. Such a system works where the seed company contracts seed producers as out-growers or contract growers. Government agencies can assist the informal sector by providing foundation seed, extension advice on seed production, processing, treatment and storage and legal framework that permits seed marketing."