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Indicators - The African Seed Access Index - The African Seed Access Index Indicators - The African Seed Access Index


The indicators used in TASAI were determined in three stages namely preexisting knowledge, industry survey and lessons from pilot:

1. Pre-existing knowledge: First we surveyed the existing literature on the building block of enabling environments for agro-industries. We then consulted with various key seed sector informants to come up with a long list long list of relevant variables. Consultation with several established indexes guided the target numbers and classification of indicators.

2. Industry survey: Second, we conducted a survey of African seed sector players to evaluate the importance of each indicators resulting in a smaller subset of key indicators. The survey was completed by 167 respondents including private seed companies (53.9%), non-governmental organizations (6.5%), government departments (15%), and research institutions (18.6).

3. Lessons from pilot: In 2013-2014 TASAI concluded pilot studies in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Key lessons from these pilot studies both sharpened the focus on the index and added four new indicators.

The table below shows 22 indicators that form the core of TASAI. You can click on each indicator to see an expanded description of its role, measurement and sources of information. In addition to these core indicators, some countries may have a few other indicators that are critical to the local seed sector. Some indicators are measured independently for each focus crop while others are sector wide. The last column shows the hypothesized impact of increased indicator performance on seed access by smallholder farmers.

  Indicators Crop-specific Impact on seed access
  • Adequacy of active breeders

    Definition: Number of active breeders in public and private sectors.Breeders may work at national research institutions, universities, or seed companies; breeders employed by foreign-owned seed companies who are based outside of the country are excluded from count.

    Theory of change:A functioning seed system needs vibrant public and private breeding programs to develop improved varieties that respond to farmer and consumer needs. The number of active breeders is indicative of the level of investment in research and development.

Yes +
  • Number of varieties released.

    Definition:Number of crop varieties released, sold, and dropped.

    Theory of change:The number of varieties released is a good measure of outputs from the variety development and release system. More varieties released often translates to more varieties commercialized thereby increasing farmers' choice.

Yes +
  • Number of varieties with 'special' attributes/ features

    Definition:Number (and percentage of total) of released varieties with features such as:
    1. Climate-smart (e.g., drought-tolerance)
    2. Use-related (e.g., quick cooking)
    3. Nutrition-enhanced
    4. Industry-demanded
    Information is sourced from variety catalogue. Calculated as percentage of all varieties released in the last 3 years

    Theory of change:In addition to higher yields, new varieties often carry desired traits that are of value to farmers and/or final consumers. These traits include climate smartness, disease/pest resistance and nutrition-enhancements.

Yes +
  • Availability of basic seed.

    Definition:Volume, sources, and procedures to access basic seed; based on information reported by seed companies and the National Agricultural Research System (NARS).

    Theory of change:Basic seed, also known as foundation seed, is the parent material required for the production of commercial seed. Timely access to sufficient and high quality basic seed is of critical importance, especially for small seed companies that cannot maintain their own basic seed.

Yes +
  • Number of active seed companies/producers.

    Definition:Number of registered seed companies/producers that produced, and/or imported, and/or marketed certified seed in the data collection year.

    Theory of change:Competition breeds excellence! The presence of more active seed companies increases competition and creates incentives for companies to innovate and improve. A vibrant seed sector depends on a robust private sector in which seed companies invest in the development, production, processing and marketing of improved varieties to farmers.

Yes +
  • Quantity of seed produced and sold.

    Definition:Volume of certified seed produced and sold by crop. Information is obtained from two sources: (i) aggregated data from seed company responses and (ii) seed production volumes certified by the government.

    Theory of change:Holding everything else constant, the more seed produced and sold, smallholder farmers have more and better choices of improved seed.

Yes +
  • Number of varieties sold and dropped.

    Definition:Number and names of varieties sold and dropped by seed companies/producers in data collection year.

    Theory of change:For every crop, the number of varieties sold in any given year is a good indicator or the breadth of farmers' choice. In addition, a vibrant seed sector should retire old varieties as newer (better) ones become available and discontinue varieties that fail to meet farmer needs.

Yes +
  • Average age of varieties sold.

    Definition:Average age of varieties sold by companies/producers based on the year the variety was released.Data sourced from national variety catalogue.Calculated as simple or volume-weighted average, depending on data availability.

    Theory of change:Newer varieties often outperform older varieties as they are bred for traits that respond to farmer, consumer and industry-demands. In vibrant seed systems, farmers regularly replace old varieties with new ones.

Yes -
  • Market concentration.

    Definition:Market share of top four seed companies (volume-based) and market concentration as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI).

    Theory of change:Competition among seed companies benefits farmers via lower prices, wider choices, increased innovation and better customer service.

Yes -
  • Market share of state-owned seed company.

    Definition:Market share of state-owned seed company calculated based on reported volume of sales as a percentage of total seed sales, by crop. (Note: State-owned company may be former parastatal, public university, or NARI subsidiary, registered as a seed company and is engaged in the production and marketing of certified seed.)

    Theory of change:In some countries, public entities are still active players in the marketing and sale of certified seed. Such state-owned companies often benefit from preferential treatment, less stringent enforcement of regulations, access to competitor information, and indirect production subsidies. Collectively these privileges can result in unfair competition against purely private seed companies.

Yes -
  • Efficiency of seed import/export processes.

    Definition:Efficiency of import/export processes as measured by length of process, import/export volumes, tariffs, and company satisfaction.

    Theory of change:Efficient seed import and export processes extend the seed market beyond national borders. While seed companies benefit from an expanded market, farmers can access a wider range of varieties from across the region.

Yes +
  • Length & cost of variety release process.

    Definition:Length and cost of variety release process.

    Theory of change:Plant variety release is the process during which new varieties undergo various tests including yield, value for cultivation and use, and distinctness, uniformity and stability. Varieties that meet the test are approved for release by the National Variety Release Committee. A vibrant seed sector has a functional variety release system that is well understood by the relevant actors and is followed diligently. Lengthy and/or costly variety release processes can limit the number of released varieties which can adversely affect farmer choice.

Yes -
  • Status & implementation of national seed policy framework.

    Definition:Status and implementation of various national seed policy instruments, including national seed policy, seed law, seed regulations, and ministerial orders and decrees.

    Theory of change: Well-functioning formal seed sectors have effective coordinating institutions that work well together, following rules and procedures stipulated in clearly defined legal instruments that are updated regularly.

No +/-
  • Harmonization with regional regulations.

    Definition:Status and implementation of regional harmonization of seed regulations.

    Theory of change:African countries are increasingly opening their borders to regional trade (e.g., African Continental Free Trade Agreement). Harmonizing national regulations with regional ones opens up regional markets to seed companies and increases choice to smallholder farmers by facilitating the process of variety release across the region and encouraging seed trade.

No +
  • Adequacy of efforts to eradicate counterfeit seed.

    Definition:Tracks prevalence of counterfeit seeds in country and efforts to eradicate problem.

    Theory of change:Counterfeit seed threatens the seed sector in two important ways: one, it reduces farmers' confidence in certified seed after farmers unknowingly purchase inferior quality grain labeled as certified seed. Two, it threatens the success of efforts to increase adoption of improved varieties.

No +
  • Use of government subsidies.

    Definition:This indicator tracks the government subsidy program, including its assessment by seed companies.

    Theory of change:Seed subsidies are intended as a short or medium-term measure to encourage farmers to adopt improved crop varieties. The design and execution of subsidy programs, in terms of the scale, targeting, distribution arrangements and payment systems, may contribute to the development of the seed market in positive ways or it may be disruptive to market forces.

No +/-
  • Performance of national seed association.

    Definition:Tracks relevant aspects of national seed traders’ association, as reported by seed company members surveyed.

    Theory of change:Well-functioning national seed trade associations play a key role in representing the interests of the industry and engaging with government.

No +
  • Adequacy of seed inspection services.

    Definition:Number and adequacy of seed inspectors.

    Theory of change:Seed inspection services ensure that certified commercial seed meets the regulatory quality standards. To provide adequate inspection services requires sufficient numbers of well-resourced inspectors.

No +
  • Availability of extension services for smallholder farmers.

    Definition:This indicator tracks the ratio of agricultural extension officers to agriculture households.

    Theory of change:Well-functioning agricultural extension services are critical to the successful adoption of improved seeds by smallholder farmers.

No +
  • Concentration of agro-dealer network.

    Definition:Concentration of agro-dealer network as measured by number of registered agro-dealers, ratio of agrodealers/household, and average number of agro-dealers seed companies work with.

    Theory of change:Agro-dealers play a key role in closing the last mile in Africa's seed distribution systems and are often the main point of sale for certified seed.

Yes +
  • Availability of seed in small packages.

    Definition:Breakdown of total seeds sold by 4 different package sizes (2kg and below, 2-10kg; 10-25kg, above 25kg) as percentage of total seeds sold.

    Theory of change:Because most farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are small-scale, making seed available in small, more affordable packages is a good way to increase adoption rates among smallholder farmers.

Yes +
  • Seed-to-grain price ratios at planting time.

    Definition:Indicator tracks ratio of the retail price of seed at the farm-gate and the price of grain, at the time of planting.

    Theory of change:Seed-to-grain is an indicator of the relative cost of seed. This data point is important as many smallholder farmers end up making a choice between purchasing seed from the formal sector or planting grain.

Yes -