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Despite the substantial funding that they have received, public sector seed organisations have achieved only mixed success. This paper examines the key characteristics of informal arrangements for seed production and distribution, seeking lessons on how these might be scaled up or replicated, and how collaboration between public sector and local initiatives might best be organised. Following a review of current thinking on the role of agricultural technology in general, and seeds in particular, in agricultural development, the paper reviews and synthesises experience from four cases drawn from Africa, Asia and Latin America. In a concluding section, lessons are drawn for seed diffusion and for formal sector agricultural research and extension.


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