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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 498807
Title Can small still be beautiful? Moving local sweetpotato seed systems to scale in sub-Saharan Africa.
Author(s) McEwan, M.; Almekinders, C.J.M.; Abidin, C.
Source In: Potato and Sweetpotato in Africa / Low, J., Nyongesa, M., Quinn, S., Parker, M., CABI - ISBN 9781780644202 - p. 289 - 310.
Department(s) Knowledge Technology and Innovation
Publication type Peer reviewed book chapter
Publication year 2015
Abstract In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a range of farmer-based practices for the conservation and multiplication of sweetpotato planting material has evolved. In bimodal rainfall areas, sequential planting ensures that a ware crop is in the ground for most of the year, and vines are harvested from one crop to plant the next one. In unimodal areas with a long dry season, practices include the use of 'volunteer' planting material from sprouting roots which have been left in the ground from the previous crop. The predominant sources of planting material are from the farmer's own field or from friends or neighbours. However, these practices result in limited amounts of planting material being available at the start of the rains and contribute to the build-up of pests and diseases contributing to suboptimal root crop production. Sweetpotato breeding efforts are leading to the development of new varieties that are preferred by farmers and consumers. However, without strong linkages to seed multiplication and dissemination efforts these varieties may not quickly benefit large numbers of smallholder farmers and consumers. Increasingly there are specialized vine multipliers who have been supported by 'project' interventions. Yet, it is not clear whether and how these interventions have built on the successful elements of existing practices. Our chapter examines the literature on local seed system functioning, and the implications for crops such as sweetpotato. The chapter reviews recent efforts to multiply and disseminate sweetpotato planting material in Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia and West Africa. New varieties and technologies have been promoted together with interventions to 'engineer' changes in the organization and coordination of the seed system. We review the country cases to gauge the extent to which successful elements of farmer-based practices for managing sweetpotato planting material have been identified and built into the process of redesigning the seed system. A number of issues are identified for discussion. These include: (i) What are the critical points for interaction between the traditional farmer-based practices and the formal seed system?; (ii) What are the trade-offs between remaining local, and yet achieving scale?; and (iii) How can the quality of planting material be assured as we go to scale? We also assess the different drivers for the seed system, and the implications for the functions of various stakeholders and patterns of communication and coordination. The chapter concludes by highlighting gaps in our current understanding for getting sweetpotato seed systems not only moving, but working at scale.
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