Policy Options to Accelerate Variety Change Among Smallholder Farmers in South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara

68 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2017

See all articles by David J. Spielman

David J. Spielman

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Melinda Smale

Michigan State University

Date Written: August 04, 2017

Abstract

The genetic improvement of food staple crops cultivated by small-scale farmers is a well-established route to increasing agricultural productivity and improving rural livelihoods. But in developing countries where seed markets are commercially active or advancing in that direction, undue emphasis in both policy and research is often placed on the adoption of improved cultivars rather than varietal turnover, or the replacement of an already improved variety with a more recently released improved variety. Strong and consistent rates of varietal turnover contribute to sustaining yield gains over time, protecting those gains from both biotic and abiotic stresses, increasing the sustainability of intensive cropping systems, and improving the quality of the commodity itself for storage, processing, and consumption. This paper explores the importance of varietal turnover in advanced and transitional seed systems for food staples in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. We first review the measurement of varietal turnover over spatial and temporal dimensions before examining evidence on policies designed to accelerate varietal turnover rates. We then suggest a sequence of regulatory reforms and public investments designed to accelerate varietal turnover while drawing attention to the economic trade-offs, unintended consequences, and operational challenges of such reforms and investments.

Keywords: South Asia; Asia; Africa South of Sahara; Africa; Farm Inputs; Varieties; Seed; Cereals; Subsidies; Farm Inputs; Agricultural Policies; Modern Varieties; Varietal Turnover; Seed Systems; Food Staples; Subsidy Programs

Suggested Citation

Spielman, David J. and Smale, Melinda, Policy Options to Accelerate Variety Change Among Smallholder Farmers in South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara (August 04, 2017). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1666, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3029612

David J. Spielman (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

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

Melinda Smale

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

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