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Demand-Led variety design to build Africa’s seed sector

Integrating Demand-Led design into public sector breeding requires support from governments and donors. Researchers and breeders need access to reliable market knowledge, and be able to translate it into their work. This may require partnerships with the private sector.  Additional considerations may also be important: for example, some national authorities only register new varieties that meet particular yield criteria.

Creating a design that has customer support is the start of a program. Later, however, technical difficulties can arise. If they do, maintaining the customer focus and not lowering the technical specification are essential for subsequent adoption.

The key requirements of demand-driven variety design to build Africa’s seed sector are;

  • Customer-designed varieties:  Seed organizations require portfolios that meet a wide range of stakeholders’ needs in different regions.

  • Multi-disciplinary inputs:  Stakeholders along the entire value chain need to be able to inform scientists about their various requirements. 

  • Scaling up production: Breeding strategies need to enable cost-effective large-scale seed production.

  • Public breeding capacity: Many African countries lack capacity for demand-driven crop breeding. Opportunities for investment in National Agriculture Research Systems need to be identified. 

  • Enabling environment:  Governments need, for example, to encourage public-private partnerships, easy transport of germplasm and speedy registration of varieties that meet customer demand.    

  • Public-private partnerships: PPPs can greatly boost seed scale-up. They enable public sector breeders to access information, germplasm and routes to better farmer adoption. The private sector can access more testing capability and tailor new varieties to strengthen commercial seed channels.

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