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The liberalization and restructuring of the seed sector in eastern and southern Africa (ESA) during the past two decades have witnessed a proliferation of private seed companies in the maize seed industry (Hassan et al., 2001; Lemonius, 2005). Although the total number of registered maize seed companies increased from 8 and 11, respectively, in 1997 to 40 each, the quantities of seed marketed barely doubled, increasing from 23,000 and 27,000 tons to 53,000 and 51,000 tons, respectively; an indication that the reforms are insufficient in ensuring efficient functioning of the sector in the two regions. A study involving 117 seed providers, representing 92 percent of all registered maize seed companies in ESA in 2007 identified bottlenecks that have differential impacts on the establishment and operation of a seed company, seed production and processing, seed marketing and demand, and seed policy in the two regions. To promote growth and development of the maize seed industry, it is imperative for a coordinated intervention effort by both public and private sector players to address the various bottlenecks. The collection, processing, dissemination and management of information on varietal release and adaptation remain vital in ensuring success of the coordinated effort.


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