Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa: A Basis for Seed Policy and Law

Niels P. Louwaars, Walter S. de Boef, Janet Edeme*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Seed policies primarily concentrate on the formal seed system, which supplies Sub-Saharan African countries less than 20% of the total seed demand and involves only a limited number of crops and varieties. Seed laws, and the mechanisms and organizations involved in their implementation, are developed with varying degrees of success. We address the limitations of applying a linear model to seed sector development and introduce integrated seed sector development (ISSD). We assess seed systems in Ethiopia, Mali, and Zambia, and demonstrate that one single model cannot address the variations in realities within one country or the continent. ISSD provides opportunities for taking a pluralistic approach in strengthening multiple seed systems, and has the potential to combine objectives targeting food security, agricultural development, promoting entrepreneurship, and contributing to biodiversity management. We elaborate pathways for ISSD-guided policies that include variety release, seed quality management, and plant breeders' rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-214
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Crop Improvement
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • African seed and biotechnology program
  • informal seed systems
  • plant breeders' rights
  • seed policy
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • variety release


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