Zambia’s maize seed industry is one of the strongest in the region, and smallholder farmers grow numerous varieties, with no single variety dominating more than a small share of maize area. Yet, the foremost consumer (purchaser) of maize seed over the past decade has been the Government of Zambia because of the reliance of the seed market on input subsidy programs. The seed market, which is highly competitive, is dominated by a few large companies despite the entry of many enterprises since liberalization. This paper reviews the changing structure of the maize seed industry in Zambia and presents findings of baseline and key informant interviews, in order to propose elements of a marketing strategy for the seeds of provitamin A-rich maize varieties. We discuss the merits of liberalizing germplasm provision to all seed companies vs those of exclusive rights to preserve product differentiation and ensure standard seed quality to protect the brand. We find that exclusive or not, risk-sharing arrangements with any company that takes up this product would be essential. Regardless of the involvement of the seed companies, building and maintaining a unique brand for provitamin A-rich maize that clearly distinguishes it from the many varieties that exist on the market will be fundamental to successful delivery strategies. While inclusion in the subsidy program is one necessary component of a successful delivery strategy, we also recommend that HarvestPlus and its partners continue to invest in other initiatives to create awareness and promote orange maize with the aim of ensuring adoption and ultimately improving nutritional status.
Smale, M.; Simpungwe, E.; De Groote, H.; Mutale, R. The Changing Structure of the Maize Seed Industry in Zambia: Prospects for Orange Maize. Research for Action Paper No. 1. (2013) 14 pp.