An Obstacle to Africa's Green Revolution: Too Few New Varieties

13 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013

See all articles by David Gisselquist

David Gisselquist

Independent

Carl E. Pray

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics

Latha Nagarajan

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

David J. Spielman

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Date Written: May 9, 2013

Abstract

Under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) the African Union proposes 6 percent annual growth in agricultural production, of which more than half is to come from productivity growth. However, the recent rate at which new varieties (including hybrids) are being introduced – less than one per country per crop per year for food field crops in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa – is too low to achieve such growth. Low rates of variety introduction can be traced to government controls involving variety performance tests and fees followed by government committees deciding if varieties will be useful for farmers and therefore permitted for seed sales. Because governments do not consider all the factors that farmers might appreciate in a variety, these procedures deny farmers access to useful varieties. The time, cost, and uncertainty involved in these procedures discourage private companies from introducing new varieties, especially for crops and countries with small markets. In countries without such controls – including South Africa and many low to high income countries outside Africa – farmers have access to much larger flows of new varieties. African governments could open the door to much larger flows of new varieties by making variety registration optional or automatic and very low cost or free.

Keywords: Africa, seeds, regulations, variety introduction

JEL Classification: O31, O33, O38, Q16

Suggested Citation

Gisselquist, David and Pray, Carl E. and Nagarajan, Latha and Spielman, David J., An Obstacle to Africa's Green Revolution: Too Few New Varieties (May 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2263042 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2263042

Carl E. Pray

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics ( email )

211 Cook Office Building
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520
United States

Latha Nagarajan

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey ( email )

311 North 5th Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08854
United States

David J. Spielman

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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