Filling a Niche? The Maize Productivity Impacts of Adaptive Breeding by a Local Seed Company in Kenya
52 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2020 Last revised: 5 Jan 2023
Date Written: August 2020
This paper explores the idea that competitive seed systems may underserve farmers in small, agro-ecological niches, leaving those farmers less productive and poorer than they need be. We develop a theoretical model of the confluence of demand and supply factors that can result in such an equilibrium. We then empirically study the disruption of the maize seed market in Western Kenya that took place when public sector foundation breeding and social impact investment capital together allowed a local seed company to expand and target the area with adaptively-bred maize varieties. A three-year RCT reveals that these seed varieties increased farmer yields and revenues, both for better-resourced farmers (who used non-adapted hybrids and fertilizer prior to the intervention) as well less well-resourced farmers (who did not). This theoretical and empirical evidence suggests news ways for thinking about seeds systems in areas typified by high levels of agro-ecological heterogeneity.
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