In 2012, The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program undertook a series of case studies of some of the projects it has funded. The case studies were designed to provide insights on the projects’ contributions, on impacts of the program and project interventions, and on lessons learned over the years. We chose the case study method as a way to combine qualitative and quantitative data in a specific context. We focused on utilization so that the program, grantee, and larger community can learn and improve research for development outcomes going forward.
Innovations in Seed Systems is the third case study in this series. The case highlights the complexity of issues and actors across the whole of a “seed system.” Throughout the seed value chain, a multitude of opportunities exist for thoughtful funding in research and development to improve the performance of the overall system.
The report highlights elements of success in this important West African effort. The project contributed to a significant increase in farmer-managed seed production. It also succeeded in improving farmers’ access to seeds, especially addressing the contextual constraints to variety adoption by offering low-cost, high-opportunity options via mini-packs of seeds. Inclusion of women in variety trials led to contextualized knowledge about new varieties, which in turn contributed to the positive impact on productivity, income, and nutrition at project sites.
The report also highlights challenges to be addressed in future funding and partnerships to achieve sustainability of the impacts. Equity, especially for women and the extremely poor, continues to be a key consideration. Entering into dialogues around these policies and rules will be important in the next phase of work.