Theme 4. Making available low-cost, high-quality planting material for farmers

The quality and availability of planting material are a recurrent concern of small farmers in developing countries, particularly for those who grow RTB crops. Organizations dealing with plant health issues are also concerned about planting material, because it is often an important carrier of new or existing pests and diseases.

Planting material is a key component for reducing the “yield gap” and allowing the expression of the genetic potential of improved or native cultivars in terms of productivity.

Currently, more than 95% of RTB planting material used by small farmers originates from the farmer’s own field or a neighbor’s field, with a few exceptions for potato or banana in limited localities. Lack of access to quality planting material appears to be the single most important limiting factor contributing to the observed yield gap seen in developing countries for all of the RTB crops. Likewise, the lack of effective seed systems holds back the rapid and wide-scale adoption of new cultivars, with their associated pro-poor traits.

Product portfolios for Theme 4 will focus on:

  • Policies, strategies, and decision support tools to improve effectiveness of seed systems
  • Lower cost, more effective mass propagation methods
  • Farmer-based quality seed production and management methods

The following figure shows a generic description of the impact pathways envisaged for Theme 4.