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FAO Policy Guide Highlights Role of Small Seed Enterprises to Secure Food Security

1 March 2011: A policy guide from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), titled "Promoting the Growth and Development of Smallholder Seed Enterprises for Food Security Crops," describes lessons learned from case studies of smallholder seed enterprises in Brazil, India and Cote d'Ivoire.

The development of smallholder seed enterprises represents an important opportunity to provide high quality seeds for improved food and nutrition in poor countries, given reduced public investment in the seed sector, according to the guide. The guide notes that the expectation that the private sector would fill this investment gap has not been realized, particularly in Africa. It notes that while hybrid seeds produce improved yields and disease resistance, they do not produce reliable seeds that can be saved for subsequent plantings.

The guide highlights successes from Brazil, India and Cote d'Ivoire, underscoring the importance of a favorable policy environment that promotes quality control and certification systems, private sector support, flexible legislation and the legal right for farmers to save and exchange seeds. It also stresses the need for available credit to allow these businesses to take root.

The FAO underscores the need to develop technical and entrepreneurial capacities for self-reliance. [Publications: FAO Policy Guide: Promoting the Growth and Development of Smallholder Seed Enterprises for Food Security Crops and FAO Case Studies from Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire and India]