Enhancing Agricultural Sector Development in Ethiopia: the Role of Research and Seed Sector
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The paper highlights the evolution of the organized seed sector and the progressive changes that took place over the last 35 years in Ethiopia. From its ad hoc arrangements and modest beginning in the 1940s, the formal seed sector went through several structural and organizational changes particularly during the last two decades due to several internal and external factors. Among these are the shift in international economic development (e.g. structural adjustment programs), the need for and emphasis on diversification to allow entry of the private sector, the separation between production and regulatory agencies and the recognition of the role of informal sector. These changes led to the development of policy and regulatory framework governing the national seed sector. Although much progress has been made in recent years, the Ethiopian seed sector remains less diverse where the public sector dominates and the choice for seed supply is limited to few major crops. The paper further discusses the challenges and opportunities presented within the agricultural transformation agenda of the country and calls for concrete steps to be undertaken in the implementation of national seed sector strategy through provision of adequate resources. It argues for a more facilitative seed policy and regulatory framework recognizing the diversity of the seed sector within the concept of integrated seed sector development embracing various types of formal (public and private), intermediate (semi-informal) and informal (farmer-saved and farmer- based) seed systems. It also calls for the integration of the national seed sector to the regional and global seed industry to benefit from developments elsewhere and become more competitive to serve the national agricultural research for development agenda.