State-Farmer Partnerships For Seed Diversity In Mali
As in many developing countries, the Mali government’s approach to seed management is becoming increasingly centralised, revolving around: (1) research programmes to create high-yielding varieties; and (2) collecting and storing germplasm in centralised genebanks for multiplication and distribution to farmers. However, it seems that not only do governments in developing countries lack the budget either to properly conserve these collections or take stock of what they have, but that national seed departments are unable to disseminate information about new varieties to rural areas. As a consequence, less than 5% of the sorghum and millet currently grown in Mali is improved varieties. This paper explores the potential for grassroots level seed management to fill a gap in the seed distribution system in a way which maintains and promotes genetic diversity. The author draws on long-term and in-depth research into farmers’ seed management strategies on more than 600 farms in eastern Mali.