Business models for early generation seed

Key challenge

Quality seed of improved varieties is often difficult to obtain due to shortages in what is referred to as foundation or early generation seed (EGS). Seed companies multiply EGS to produce sufficient quantities of their own product to sell to the market. There are many reasons for the limited supply of quality EGS including that the investment in its production is simply not enough. Due to constraints in their capacity, seed companies in Africa often look to public institutes to deliver this much needed resource.

A few good initiatives addressing this issue do exist. Even in those cases their sustainability is debateable due to their dependence upon donor support and/or because of a weak enabling environment. A knowledge gap exists regarding what business models work in the production of quality EGS and what conditions need to be in place for these to be feasible. There is need to conduct a systematic analysis of past and current experiences to inform future interventions. Lessons learned would be a significant asset for country- and crop-specific EGS delivery models.

Action learning questions

Developing sustainable models for EGS supply requires good knowledge of past and current experiences. This involves finding answers to the following action learning questions:

  1. What external factors govern EGS supply?
  2. How are EGS operations structured?
  3. How well do these operations perform?

Following this enquiry, we aim to identify successful business models worth replicating by private sector, with public investment when necessary and through public-private partnership. We also aim to reveal drivers of success and draw lessons for policy makers for enabling increased quality EGS supply.

Activities and outcomes

In this action learning project, scalable models of EGS seed production will be identified and interventions designed and implemented, based on an inventory of successful and unsuccessful cases. Potentially scalable EGS models will be selected based on an analysis of their sustainability and validated by stakeholders. We aim to pilot promising business models for EGS production and supply in partnership with public and private partners.