Share your research and experience, ask and answer questions, meet your peers.

Topic 17: How to increase purchase of sweet potato seed among individual farmers?

Getting new, disease-free sweetpotato planting material into the system to flush out diseased material at farmers’ level is not easy. Farmers conserve their own seed or get it from other farmers or from local markets. They may also acquire seed as relief supplies from the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or international agencies. Currently, farmer-multipliers are selling millions of sweetpotato cuttings, especially orange-fleshed varieties, to local governments, local and international NGOs which give them to their beneficiaries for free. The price per cutting varies depending on variety, season and type of buyer. Mostly, the price charged to individual farmers is far below what is paid by NGOs but still the quantity of vines purchased by individual farmers is very low in several countries. For example, in Rwanda NGOs buy vines at 8-15 Rwf/ cutting (0.009-0.017USD), while individual farmers pay 3-5Rwf (0.0034- 0.0057 USD). In 2016, the percentage of vines purchased by individual farmers was 21% of the total vines sold. The percentage of vines bought by NGOs is increasing but going down for individual farmers. This scenario cuts across sub-Saharan Africa and is a challenge towards establishing sustainable seed systems. It was with this regard that the 17th online discussion of the Sweetpotato Seed Systems and Crop Management Community of Practice focused on purchase of seed among individual farmers. The discussion attracted 12responses which brought out four key issues: a) Economics – dynamics around return on investment b) Role of free vine distribution c) Farmer-appreciation of benefits of quality seed d) Social dynamics around sweetpotato seed acquisition