Emergency Seed Interventions, Subsidies and Seed System Development. A Feed the Future Global Supporting Seed Systems for Development Activity Brief

  • Date Posted: October 6, 2023
  • Organizations/Projects: Feed the Future
  • Document Types: Primer or Brief


Photo from Emergency Seed Interventions, Subsidies and Seed System Development

Donor- or government-funded seed distribution – whether through emergency interventions or subsidy schemes – has long been seen as a serious constraint to seed system development (Tripp and Rohrbach, 2001). This briefing is based on a review of literature from Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, and Mozambique and explores the changing nature of seed distribution through emergency interventions and subsidy programs.

Whilst there have been some positive shifts in the ways in which seed is provided, free or subsidized seed distribution continues to present serious challenges to efforts to develop sustainable market-based seed systems.

This briefing explores the impacts of free or subsidized seed distribution on the formal seed sector and highlights alternative mechanisms for emergency seed provisioning that contribute to greater resilience and avoid creating market distortions and weakened seed systems.

It is recommended that more coherent and coordinated development, resilience and emergency approaches are realized through greater clarity in the rationales, objectives and design of specific interventions. The recent expansion of resilience programming creates new opportunities for innovative, longer-term approaches in response to emergencies.

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