An Obstacle to Africa's Green Revolution: Too Few New Varieties
13 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013
Date Written: May 9, 2013
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: Suggested Citation