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In-depth field research—undertaken by IFPRI with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other partners in India, Kenya, and Mali—brings to light new evidence about farmers’ access to seed and the role of village markets in supplying it, with a focus on semi-arid environments.1 The findings point to several policy options aimed at improving the effectiveness of these markets, which can be crucial for reducing the potential negative impacts of high food prices. Such options might be considered in tandem with those recommended for more favorable environments, where seed systems already function more effectively. This brief introduces the issues that drove this research project, relevant concepts, and methods. The accompanying briefs present findings of specific country case studies.


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