Effective marketing strategies for sweetpotato seed

The second edition in this blog series for SeedSystem.org by scientists from the International Potato Center (CIP) and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) explores effective marketing strategies for sweetpotato seed.

The sustainable production of Early Generation Seed (which includes pre-basic/foundation seed and basic seed) is one bottleneck to increasing the availability of new varieties for farmers. Under which conditions is it profitable to produce sweetpotato Early Generation Seed (EGS), and who is best placed to do it? Srini Rajendran and Margaret McEwan, of CIP and RTB, are determining the cost of producing sweetpotato EGS as part of developing a sustainable business.

Here, Srini and Margaret discuss ideas on effective marketing strategies for sweetpotato seed – which is bulky, perishable and costly to transport:

“Quality starts at source”. Pathogen tested tissue culture plantlets under micro-propagation for pre-basic seed production at Crop Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana. Photo: M.D.Quain.

Effective seed marketing strategies are key to sustaining a profitable business. Some of the National Agricultural Research Institutes now use a differentiated pricing strategy depending on: firstly, the market segment they are targeting (e.g. institutional markets such as government programs or NGOs; or individual multipliers who are the next link in the seed chain); and secondly, whether orders are placed and paid for in advance. Institutional buyers are the major customers for sweetpotato EGS. However, they may then provide this seed free to multipliers, and/or provide demand-side subsidies so that farmers can receive free or discounted seed. This leads to market distortions. We would like to explore what type of push-and-pull strategies might be used to increase demand for quality EGS.

What experiences can readers share for successful marketing strategies, remembering that sweetpotato cuttings are bulky, perishable and costly to transport? Readers are invited to provide insight in the comments section below.

This research was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). Implementation was led by CIP. Funding support was provided by the SASHA2 project.

Read the original post and reader comments on the SeedSystem.org website