Tracing legume seed diffusion beyond demonstration trials: An exploration of sharing mechanisms

Conny J.M. Almekinders*, Esther Ronner, Joost van Heerwaarden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many interventions are assuming that introduced seeds diffuse. However, the details of this diffusion among farmers are poorly understood. This article presents data from eight sites in four on the diffusion of seed and associated information given to farmers involved in N2Africa’s demonstration trials. The study showed that 2–3 years after the trials had been organised, more than 90% of the farmers who had participating in the trial activities and were given a seed-input package with 1–5 kg of legume seed had shared this seed, on average with four other farmers. The farmers who received this seed from these directly involved farmers shared their seed less frequently. Eighty per cent of all the seed sharings were of 1–2 kg of seed given as a gift. Only 5% of the sharings involved a cash transaction. More than half of the seed sharings were with family members and around a third were between friends. Men shared at least as often as women and both men and women shared most with persons of their own sex. Information about rhizobium as an associated input for soya was shared by more than one-third of farmers, almost exclusively by farmers who had participated in the demonstration trials themselves. Extrapolation of data suggest that in addition to the 250,000 farmers who participated directly in the N2Africa demonstration trials, another 1,400,000 farmers may have received seed of a new legume crop or variety. The results show that knowing about the character of the seed sharing mechanisms may offer opportunities to influence the diffusion of seeds. Providing farmers with somewhat larger amounts of seeds, emphasise the importance of sharing seeds and information with relatives and friends could be an important factor in achieving a high multiplier effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
JournalOutlook on Agriculture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • gender
  • relationships
  • Seed diffusion
  • transactions

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