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Topic 8: Sweetpotato Seed System Enterprise Models and Competitiveness

The aim in this topic, “Sweetpotato Seed System Enterprise Models and Competitiveness” is to share experiences on business models that have been used to bring competitiveness into sweetpotato seed enterprises, both in formal and informal seed systems. The focus is to examine different ways of forecasting demand for planting materials and how this injects or enhances competitiveness in the sweetpotato seed enterprises. The lead discussant observed that experiences suggest that seed demand forecasting in the formal systems is well organized and enables adequate planning for seed production to meet requirements at the onset of rains. Whereas the informal systems seem to have no discernable system for estimating demand for planting materials in the coming season and to plan supply at village level. This is seen to be a major constraint to commercialization of informal seed enterprises and is the key cause for inadequate planting materials at the start of the rain season. Thus, the focus of the discussion was intended to address “how smallholder-led seed enterprises address demand forecasting and production planning for effective competitiveness”. As in most topics, the lead discussant posted some questions, which sought to: clarify demand estimation as a way of assuring vine multipliers of the expected demand for planting materials and how forecasted demand could be used to schedule production of planting materials, and tools/methodologies to use to forecast demand. The topic attracted 35 contributions from 18 respondents, and was moderated by Antony Maside of Farm Concern International (full statistics on table 1). This summary highlights the key points, any areas of consensus or disagreement, and any ideas suggested that members could consider to try/test in their work to further learning and inform development /practice in sweetpotato seed system.