Commercial Behavior, Varietal Preferences and Wheat Seed Markets in Ethiopia
This working paper presents the commercial behaviors in wheat seed sector, farmers' varietal preferences, and their implications on the wheat seed sector based on the primary data collected from randomly selected 524 wheat farmers in the major wheat growing areas covering 22 woredas (districts) in 11 zones of Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. About 25% of the wheat producers are in autarkic (neither buying nor selling), 26% in selling and the rest, 49%, are in buying market position for seed. This implies that the formal seed sector can target only slightly more than half of wheat producers. Farmers' perceptions indicate that the value of attainment indices is high for the improved varieties compared to the local landraces. This shows that the improved varieties embody more of the characteristics that are in demand. However, there is a high variability in the attainment indices among improved varieties for different attributes. This suggests the need to target varieties for the different circumstances including yield and disease and drought tolerance. The result also indicated inconsistency between the value of the attainment indices of varieties and the amount of seed supplied by the formal sector, which resulted in a mismatch between the demand and supply leading to considerable carryover of seed every year. These results, therefore, imply the need to promote (i) a market-based seed demand and supply system taking into account the commercial behavior in wheat seed to meet the growing demand and supply of the wheat seed sector in particular and seed sector in general in Ethiopia; and (ii) diversification of seed supply of different bread wheat varieties and increase in the capacity of seed suppliers to effectively respond to the farmers’ preferences.