Research Area Seed

Source: Flickr (treesftf)

Improving farmer efficiency and productivity is a central challenge in Ethiopia. But now, new and better seed varieties offer a sustainable means of increasing crop yields. The issue is getting this valuable input into farmers' hands.

Farmers using modern seeds could see substantial increases, over 60 percent in maize production, while wheat and other self-pollinating crop varieties could increase by 30 percent. Overall, there is potential for an increase of 7 million tons per year (Dercon 2009), much-needed to keep pace with Ethiopia's rapidly growing  population of 90 million plus people.

Key improvements to new varieties include drought-resistant seeds, and varieties immune to common diseases that can destroy entire crops. Despite these  breakthroughs, only 5 percent of land dedicated to cereal crops—totaling 75 percent of Ethiopia’s crop production—includes the use of improved seeds.

Work in this sector will focus on encouraging greater access to modern seeds for high-value crops. Researchers will assess distribution channels to determine inefficiencies as well as promote coordination between the public and private sectors. Researchers will also look into pricing policies that affect affordability to improve farmer access to improved seeds.

REAP's research will focus on the following ATA priorities:

  • Implementing better policies to support production and distribution
  • Using modern seed in all the major food crops
  • Providing  high-quality seeds to farmers
  • Ensuring that seed supply matches demand
  • Improving farmer’s knowledge of new seed varieties to help encourage adoption

Read the reports below to learn more about REAP's work in the seed sector.

Related Articles & Publications

Changing Hands: A new model for selling seeds to farmers in Ethiopia

Seed System Potential in Ethiopia

Direct Seed Marketing Program in Ethiopia in 2013