Chapter 8. Introducing improved vegetable varieties in a development context: lessons for the introduction of hybrid true potato seed

E.M.S. ter Steeg*, P. Gildemacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Hybrid true potato seed (HTPS) technology has potential to strengthen the smallholder potato sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. For its successful introduction, stakeholders will need to realise promises of the innovation and overcome barriers to adoption. Both promises and barriers can be analysed looking at the seed, farm, and market system. Efforts of two pairs of Dutch vegetable seed companies, East-West Seed and Rijk Zwaan introducing improved tomato varieties in Tanzania, and De Groot & Slot and Bejo introducing true-seed shallots in Indonesia, offer lessons learned when developing a strategy for HTPS in Sub-Saharan Africa. The SEVIA project in Tanzania (2013-2020) demonstrated that main barriers to adoption of tomato varieties were posed by the seed and farm system. The investment in seed of improved crop varieties was worthwhile, only if tomato farmers improved their full-field production practices, and prior nursery care. There were no barriers regarding the market system, but there were also no incentives for adoption: tomato is mostly a commodity in Tanzania and there is no diversified market. The ‘True Seed Shallot demonstration project’ in Indonesia (2018-2020) sought to introduce true shallot seed (TSS) varieties requiring a transformation of the seed, farm, and market system. The companies decided to promote TSS outside traditional shallot production areas where the potential positive impact of their innovation was larger. Vegetable farmers, familiar with seedlings while unfamiliar with shallots, were trained in shallot production from seed. Adoption of HTPS will, like improved shallot and tomato varieties, require transformations of the seed, farm, and market systems. The two cases show that investments in seed system development are essential. Widespread outreach efforts are needed to demonstrate the promise of an innovation. Moreover, capacity building is then required to enable farmers to realise the potential of an improved variety themselves. Without additional skills, adoption of an innovation is often not economical. In summary, farmers need to be familiarised with the technology and recognise its profitability. Subsequently, HTPS technology can be mainstreamed in the seed, farm, and market system minimising disruption and maximising innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImpact of hybrid potato
Subtitle of host publicationThe future of hybrid potato from a systems perspective
EditorsPaul C. Struik, Peter R. Gildemacher, Dirk Stemerding, Pim Lindhout
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9789086869466
ISBN (Print)9789086863921
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2023


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