Considering the nutritional challenges facing the African continent, and the economic challenges of poverty and unemployment, it is essential to give higher priority to developing the vegetable sector. The rapid expansion of vegetable production and consumption in many Asian countries since the 1990s provides valuable lessons. One of the most important has been the critical role of the private sector in stimulating domestic breeding of well-adapted vegetable varieties so that farmers and consumers have better products and more choice.
This will enable farmers to increase their production, thereby making vegetables more affordable to consumers, and likewise enabling seed companies to assert their identity in the market place with distinct products. The experience of Asia over the past 30 years illustrates the need to create a favorable environment for private seed companies to develop their commercial potential through investment in R&D.
The key elements are to: (a) strengthen the capacity of African vegetable seed companies in research and seed production; (b) review and revise seed laws and regulations to give seed companies more incentive to invest in vegetable research and development; (c) provide extension programs to promote the adoption of improved production technologies; and (d) support vegetable supply chains to become more efficient, thus reducing the risk for farmers and traders. Investment by governments, international/regional organizations and donors in these key areas will put more “greens” into Africa’s Green Revolution and help to energize the private seed sector, stimulate smallholder productivity and income growth, and help to address the many nutritional challenges now facing African countries.
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Schreinemachers, P., Howard, J., Turner, M. et al. Africa’s evolving vegetable seed sector: status, policy options and lessons from Asia. Food Sec. 13, 511–523 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-021-01146-y