African Journal of Agricultural Marketing

African Journal of Agricultural Marketing ISSN 2375-1061 Vol. 6 (1), pp. 001-010, January, 2018. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Prospects and challenges of seed sector privatisation

Patrick Malope

Department of Agricultural Economics, Education and Extension Botswana College of Agriculture, Gaborone, Botswana. E-mail: Tel: +267-3650100 or +267-72591713. Fax: +267-3928753.

Accepted 08 November, 2018


African countries embarked on privatisation of their seed industries in the 1980s as part of the structural adjustment programmes. Botswana however, chose not to privatise its seed production services at that time. This paper examines the prospects and challenges for embarking on seed sector privatisation in developing countries using Botswana as a case study. The study found that the present system is such that the department of agricultural research (DAR) through its seed multiplication unit (SMU) dominates seed production and distribution, especially for open pollinated varieties. This has stifled private sector participation in seed production and distribution. The present system has a number of shortcomings such as the provision of poor quality seed, insufficient monitoring of seed production, unfulfillment of contracts, low returns to DAR and limited capacity for seed distribution. Challenges facing the drive for privatisation are: free seed distribution, unreliable seed demand, lack of plant breeder’s rights and lack of institutional and policy framework to support private sector participation in the seed sector. However, there are a number of prospects that could stimulate private sector participation in the seed sector. These include government’s renewed interest in the development of the arable sector through initiatives that could stimulate seed demand and the government’s privatisation policy. For the process to succeed it should be followed cautiously and the strategy that promises success is that of contracting out and restructuring of the SMU. The government should also embark on institutional reforms and come up with an appropriate seed policy which will guide private sector participation in the seed industry.

Key words: Privatisation, seed, Botswana, challenges, prospects.