The Impact of Ethiopia’s Direct Seed Marketing Approach on Smallholders’ Access to Seeds, Productivity, and Commercialization

IFPRI Discussion Paper 1998

35 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2021

See all articles by Dawit Mekonnen

Dawit Mekonnen

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Gashaw Tadesse Abate

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Seid Yimam

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Rui Benfica

IFPRI

David J. Spielman

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Frank Place

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Date Written: January 27, 2021

Abstract

Several factors contribute to the low level of improved variety use in Ethiopia. Among those, on the supply side, is the limited availability of seed in the volumes, quality, and timeliness required by farmers, which is partly a result of limited public and private investment in the sector. Beginning in 2011, the Government of Ethiopia introduced a novel experiment-the Direct Seed Marketing (DSM) approach-to reduce some of the centralized, state-run attributes of the country’s seed market and rationalize the use of public resources. DSM was designed to incentivize private and public seed producers to sell seed directly to farmers rather than through the state apparatus. This study is the first quantitative evaluation of DSM’s impact on indicators of a healthy seed system: access to quality seeds, on-farm productivity, and market participation of smallholders. Using a quasi-experimental difference-in-differences approach, the study finds that DSM led to a 26 percent increase in maize yields and a 5 percent increase in the share of maize harvest sold. DSM also led to improvements in seed availability for all three of Ethiopia’s major cereals: maize, wheat, and teff. However, DSM’s effects on yields and share of harvest sold are not statistically significant for wheat and teff. These crop-specific differences in performance are likely explainable by biological differences between hybrid maize and openly pollinated varieties of wheat and teff that incentivize private sector participation in maize seed markets over wheat and teff seed markets. These differences demand different policies and perhaps even institutional approaches to accelerating adoption between hybrids and OPVs.

Keywords: Ethiopia, East Africa, Africa South of Sahara, Africa, Seeds, Productivity, Commercialization, Smallholders, Maize, Marketing, Crops, Seed Production, Seed Quality, Direct Seed Marketing, Seed Systems, Crop Productivity

Suggested Citation

Mekonnen, Dawit and Abate, Gashaw Tadesse and Yimam, Seid and Benfica, Rui and Spielman, David J. and Place, Frank, The Impact of Ethiopia’s Direct Seed Marketing Approach on Smallholders’ Access to Seeds, Productivity, and Commercialization (January 27, 2021). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1998, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3774461

Dawit Mekonnen (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

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

Gashaw Tadesse Abate

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifpri.org

Seid Yimam

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

2033 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States

Rui Benfica

IFPRI ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifpri.org/

David J. Spielman

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

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

Frank Place

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

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

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