Importance of rice research and development in rice seed policies

Seed is an important input in agriculture. Appropriate seed policy enables the supply of good varieties to farmers at a low cost. Thus, improved seed-sector functions, including seed subsidies, effective regulations, certifications, and efficient private-sector participation, receive significant attention. Relatively less attention, however, has been given to the suitability of varieties that various seed-sector policies try to disseminate. For countries like Nigeria, where agricultural research and development (R&D) has long been incapacitated, seed-sector policies may often have insufficient outcomes, not so much because of the efficiency of those policies but mostly because varieties being promoted are outdated (even though they are called improved varieties) or suitable only in certain environments but not in most of the other areas with diverse agroecological conditions.

This paper addresses these issues using rice in Nigeria as an example. First, this paper shows that rice varietal development in Nigeria has been lagging behind that of other developing countries in Asia and Latin America, due partly to insufficient investment in domestic rice R&D. The paper then illustrates using a household model simulation that impacts of certain policies, such as the seed subsidy, may be greater (smaller) if they are applied to good (poor) varieties. The paper concludes by discussing key policy implications and future research needs.