Crop Seed

 Agriculture Overview

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  • Average grain and legume yields in Kenya have been static or falling for over 3 decades. For example, Kenya’s maize yield of 1.6 MT/ha is far below the global average of 6 MT/ha, and increasingly falling behind neighbouring countries

The Sector

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  • Crop seed consists of seed for grains, legumes, and vegetatively propagated crops such as cassava and potatoes
  • Of more than 110 seed companies registered by KEPHIS (Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service), less than 20 private sector companies are actively producing and selling grain and legume seed
  • The sector is highly regulated

The Market

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  • Less than half of Kenya’s cropland is cultivated using certified seed (certified seed is seed officially approved for sale)
  • Fake and low quality seed are challenges in Kenya.

The Farmer

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  • Farmers are not empowered to speak up if they receive fake or low quality seed
  • Farmers are hungry for crop seed information, but often cannot get it

Supply Trends

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  • 88% of all certified crop seed is maize seed; seed for Kenya’s second most important crop, beans, is less than 2% of total seed
  • There are more than 75 high potential crop varieties that have been officially released, but are not effectively reaching farmers
  • Agrodealers are a vital part of the supply chain but are fragmented, lack good information about crop varieties, and are unable to advocate for themselves at both county and national levels

Demand Trends

  • Demand for improved crop seed other than maize outstrips supply; demand for some varieties of maize seed outstrips supply of those varieties
  • Many farmers are looking to the crop seed sector for climate change solutions

Key Challenges

  • Lack of evidence for policy making and poor understanding of sector challenges has led to sub-optimal policy environment
  • Parastatal dominance has deterred development of an efficient, innovative and competitive sector
  • Low supply of parent seed for government-owned varieties has led to low commercialization levels, especially for non-maize seed
  • High regulatory burden on industry drives an estimated 15-20% of operating costs
  • Weak advocacy by seed companies inhibits effective public private partnership
  • Low agrodealer and farmer awareness – of both new varieties and proper seed positioning – leads to low yields
  • Poorly networked agrodealer industry deters professionalism, innovation, competition
  • Lack of farmer empowerment/voice creates entry point for fake and low quality seed

KMT and its implementing partner, Agri Experience, are focusing on interventions in three areas:

  1. Catalyze evidence-based, participatory policy development to create a competitive and inclusive seed industry

  • Support gathering, structuring, and open sharing of accurate information for all levels of the crop seed sector through partners
  • Facilitate policy and regulatory reform by bringing together public and private sector to review and update existing frameworks
  • Support development of regional benchmarking tools for industry effectiveness and competitiveness
  1. Strengthen the foundation for more and better crop seed commercialisation

  • Work with partners to remove regulatory bottlenecks which hinder more efficient private sector commercialization of new crop seed varieties, especially for non-maize crops that are important to women farmers
  • Promote greater private sector seed company investment and facilitate stronger production and marketing performance, with emphasis on climate change needs
  • Strengthen private sector voice to improve lobbying and advocacy
  • Promote the use of ICT to improve customers’ access to information about crop seed varieties and use, especially climate smart varieties
  1. Support development of a more farmer-centred crop seed distribution system

  • Empower agrodealers to become more active and knowledgeable partners in crop seed distribution to increase farmers’ yields
  • Enhance agrodealer linkages with seed companies, each other, and other market actors
  • Encourage agrodealers to plant customer-focused, climate smart crop seed demoes using new varieties
  • Facilitate and strengthen sustainable advocacy platforms for agrodealers
  • Through partners, develop mechanisms for farmers to voice complaints about seed quality, paying particular attention to women farmers and their needs

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The volume of improved crop seed certified annually exceeds 55,000 MT, increasing from a base of 40.7 MT in 2013. The level of competition among Kenya’s crop seed suppliers moves into the Fair Range, a score of 2,500 or less as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman index, from a base of 6,300 in 2014