Tag Archives: Tanzania

Challenges for Tanzanian seed sector

As part of our ongoing market development support for ICRISAT’s seed sector mission in Africa, over the last week I met with public and private sector actors in the Tanzanian seed sector.  Building a viable private sector presents a number of challenges and the situation is quite complex. This is intended only as an overview. After 30 years in power, Julius Nyere’s socialist regime collapsed in 1997, and the market-driven economy is still in the process of evolution.  Under the socialists there was no private seed sector.  A parastatal seed company – Tanseed – had a monopoly on seed production and distribution in Tanzania.

The remains of the old structures can be seen in ASA – the Agricultural Seed Agency – a government agency which promotes itself as “The Source of High Quality Agricultural Seeds”.  ASA’s mission is:

To produce, process and market sufficient high quality agricultural seeds for the local and international farming communities by using modern management and appropriate technologies to enhance food security.

ASA is the sole source of public variety foundation seed.   There are failures, and our interviews revealed that:

  • ASA’s foundation seed production is unable to meet demand;
  • ASA’s certified seed production and marketing (which, according to ASA, is intended only to address orphan crops which are of no interest to the private sector) competes with the private sector;
  • As a result of financial constraints, there is only limited public sector breeding in Tanzania, and no maintenance breeding; this has resulted in the loss of a number of valuable public lines.
  • Foundation seed produced by ASA for both the public and private sector is of poor quality, which does not bode well for the future food security and economic development of Tanzania.
ASA farm in Arusha

From left to right: Paul Nandila (Workshop Manager), Bob Shuma (Executive Director, TASTA) and Zawadieli Mrinji (ASA farm manager) examining maize foundation seed at the ASA farm in Arusha

Bob Shuma
Bob Shuma with ASA maize foundation seed; true to type on left, defective on right.

Bob Shuma, Executive Director of TASTA (Tanzanian Seed Trade Assn.) estimates that only 15% of seed planted in Tanzania is certified.

With a land area of 947,000 sq. km. and four quite different farming ecologies few roads are suitable for trucking. Of the 79,000 km of roadways, less than 7,000 km are paved.[1] This exacerbates an already fragile distribution chain for certified seed by increasing retail prices to the point at which many farmers cannot afford to buy.  Conventional financing is not an option; with a banking sector that is risk averse, does not understand farming, and with interest rates in the 20%-25% range, even a medium sized and profitable regional company such as East Africa Seed finances expansion from retained earnings.

Drought is yet another factor and explains why the private sector has been unable to meet demand from farmers for certified seed, and is one factor in ASA’s inability to meet private sector demand for foundation seed.  The government is now investing in the installation of irrigation systems for the ASA seed farms, and this should enable an increase in output. All of the seed companies interviewed seemed highly aware of the need to establish and maintain a strong brand identity to distinguish themselves from competitors who, for the most part, are selling identical product (foundation seed provided by ASA and AVRDC is available to all buyers). The options for developing unique branding strategies are, however, limited and the common focus is on quality and reliability.  The disparity between supply and demand – no seed company has been able to satisfy demand – explains why marketing is not a critical issue for the private seed sector. Bob Shuma observes that:

When Tanzania’s seed laboratory is finally accredited to ISTA and OECD it will stimulate the availability of new varieties, new crops and new lines and export opportunities will open up; unfortunately budgetary restraints have slowed this process.  With all of these constraints, what will attract local investors and entrepreneurs to invest in private sector seed activity?  And how can farmers access improved technologies?  These are challenges to be addressed by Tanzania, its partners and by the development community.

Many thanks to Bob Shuma for his invaluable assistance on this trip, and to TASTA and Wageningen International for their support.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP


[1] CIA Factbook; this data is at least five years old and paved roadway has probably increased by 20%.

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IP case studies from four agricultural research institutions in developing countries

http://www.cas-ip.org/public/uploads/2009/04/compilation_of_4_working_papers_npi_2008.pdf

The National Partners Initiative (NPI) of CAS-IP has published this week a compilation of 4 working papers entitled: “Institutionalization of Intellectual Property Management: Case Studies from four Agricultural Research Institutions in Developing Countries”.  The full text can be viewed by clicking on the lead link above. These case studies aim to share country experiences from developing countries in the areas surrounding IP policy making, policy implementation and use of IPRs by researchers for leveraging more benefits to the stakeholders, people, institutions and countries. The results of the case studies have been prepared as four working papers. The working papers are on the following topics:

Intellectual Property Management Regime in the Indian National Agricultural Research Systems
(R. Kalpana Sastry, India)

This case study presents an overview of the changing environment for public research organizations in the Indian Agricultural Research System with respect to intellectual property management. In its commitment to cater to its broader societal objectives, the system has been challenged with growing sovereignty and restrictions on the sharing of germplasm, privatization of knowledge, and pressures to reduce demands on public finances through the commercialization of research products. Starting with a review of the relevant legal and policy documents to understand the background of the obligations at national and at the international level, followed by a brief review of the role and functions played by some statutory agencies in India, the implications for the National Agricultural Research System were studied. Against the realization of need for IP policy for the large system, the provisions and governance model of the new IP policy of the national agricultural organization like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was analyzed. Then the implementation of guidelines now in place for two constituent institutes Project Directorate of Poultry (PDP) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), animal- based and crop-based institutes respectively, were studied in detail from the IP policy perspective. The study highlights on the implementation of guidelines, structural adjustments in decision making activities in IP management at institutes and at understanding the specific issues of IP management relevant to the research mandate of these institutes.

Establishment of Plant Breeders’ Rights System in Tanzania: Achievements and Challenges
(Patrick Ngwediagi, Tanzania)

The study is on establishment of plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania: achievements and challenges seeks to review appropriateness of the current plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania and its contribution to an effective sui generis system, and attempts to formulate an appropriate model in line with the TRIPS Agreement. The results indicate a need for a benchmark review of process of activities to be useful towards the creation and operationalization of a sui generis system. The involvement of the stakeholders in this exercise in Tanzania proved to be very useful exercise and should be continued as many other developing countries develop models to suit the needs in their niche areas. The findings suggest a strong need of such actions to enable policy makers take prudent decisions while complying with the TRIPs agreement. Issues of benefit sharing and access to biological resources especially in PVP context need to evolve if the IP protection systems are to bring the needed changes for the stakeholders.

A Review of the Nigerian System of Intellectual Property
(Victor M. Ibigbami and Christopher U. Orji, Nigeria)

Nigeria is taking steps to comply with the new IP regime ushered in by the WTO TRIPS and supported by African Union (AU). The issues such as Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and patent for microorganisms are technological in nature and the country should exercise the sui generis option provided in the TRIPS agreement to develop suitable laws. It is necessary that such laws may have instruments to be able to be used beyond the country’s existing IP framework like through the aegis of AU Model Law. This study also points to the need to amend the National Crop Varieties and Livestock Breeds Registration and Release Committee Decree 33 of 1987 in Nigeria to provide space for Plant Variety Protection (PVP), Animal Breeders Rights, and Farmers’ Rights. The Committee is currently administered by the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) in the Ministry of Science and Technology and institutional mechanism should be put in place. Analysis of two grants relating to biotechnological related inventions and consequent efforts for licensing the technology indicate the need for regulation of such inventions in terms of best practices methods. Providing strong legal mechanisms for biotechnological inventions through National Biotechnology Law may lead to institutionalizing the norms for biosafety through institutions like National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA). This will help regulate research on microorganisms in terms of IP creation, benefit sharing and on biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals which the patent law presently does not address. It is envisaged that such measures would lead to increased investment in technology development and the resulting products can better the lives of the people of Nigeria.

Establishing a Technology Transfer Office in an Academic Institution in a Developing Country: Experience of Moi University
(Antony S. Mbayaki, Kenya)

The study relates to the experience of Moi University (in Eldoret Kenya) on the establishment of the first technology transfer office in a university or public research institution in Kenya. This study indicates the efforts of the policy makers leading to the establishment of the office at the institutional level. Nuances in the process of establishment, the challenges that faced and continue to open up, the manner of countering and overcoming have been discussed. The success and the roadblocks during the process serve as vital lessons for several other organizations that are now in the process of establishing Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in academic institutions especially in Africa. The study indicates that the benefits accrued through such offices placed in institutions of higher learning are enormous. If technology transfer has to be disseminated to reach to end users in a climate of ‘win-win’ situation, it is necessary to institutionalize the technology transfer in all institutes. Since the provisions in law have to be actualized and enforced, TTOs will have a major role in overseeing that potential and actual through sound IP management reach all stakeholders.

Post written by Karine Malgrand     consultant to CAS-IP

How do IPRs and IP help public agricultural research in developing/emerging economy countries?

the National Partners Initiative
I’m continuing to blog from the the National Partners Initiative workshop being held in Mombasa.  I have been talking to the participants this week about where they see IP making a positive contribution in agricultural research in their countries.  I wanted to take this opportunity to share on this blog some of the comments:

From Indonesia:
“IP rights encourage scientists to develop their career & innovation.  Patents and copyright provided incentives at a national research centre’ ”

From Malaysia:
“IP helps the potential to commercialize an R&D project.  It adds value to the R&D and indicates a certain quality standard”

From China:
“IP improved income into local breeding institute”

From Tanzania
“breeders work hard to find their own varieties – it gives breeder incentives and boosts their innovation when they have Plant Variety Protection”

From India:
“the grant of USPTO protection in the well-known cases of Tumeric and Basmati changed the face of IP in India.  Law makers were mobilised and sped up the implementation of TRIPS.  This has helped protect traditional knowledge and build livelihoods for producers in India.”

From Kenya:
“IP awareness has an impact on the attention paid to IP clauses in agreements.  It helps parties to understand roles and responsibilities and helps manage risk.  By formalising in this way partnerships are more effective because a mutual understanding is reached.”