The seed industry for dryland crops in Eastern Kenya
De Groote, Hugo
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The development and promotion of improved crop varieties as well as efficient seed production, distribution, and marketing systems have contributed significantly to increased agricultural production and food security in Kenya. However, these impacts have not been replicated in the semi-arid midlands due to climatic, soil, and institutional factors. Following the liberalization of agriculture in the late 1980s, there has been greater participation of the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and voluntary agencies in the area. This study examined the extent to which these developments affected farmers’ access to dryland crops. The study found that the low quantity of seed traded, high cost of production, and high seed supply prices constrained the development of local seed trade. It recommended developing and offering a range of varieties to farmers to increase demand, training to strengthen farmers’ capacity to manage seed on-farm, and reduction of high production and distribution costs through further research and institutional improvements. In addition, the “seed loans” model, which has been very effective in the area, should be strengthened.