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The role of NGO in informal seed production and dissemination: The case of eastern Ethiopia
Seed is the basic input to crop production. Farmer-based seed production as an alternative agricultural technology transfer is increasingly given especial attention in developing countries where food insecurity is critical. This paper aims to assess the seed production and dissemination strategy among smallholder farmers in eastern Ethiopia that has been introduced by Hararghe Catholic Secretariat (a Non-GovernmentalOrganization). A survey of 160 households in four administrative districts and focus group discussions were used to collect data. While narratives helped understand the process, logistic regressionwas used to identify determinants of land allocation to seed production. Results indicate the crucial role of informal networks and social capital as facilitators of access to production inputs, information and knowledge. The informal seed supply system initiated by the NGO has a huge potential to benefit smallholder farmers by improving their access to higher-yielding varieties of various crops, thereby contributing to an increase in their wellbeing. However, the traditional practice of seed exchange, influenced by social relations, will remain uneconomical to seed producers. Thus, the paper suggests that this potential can be further exploited if some preconditions such as establishment of seed banks, investment in human capital, removal of the underlying constraints and creation of reliable seed markets are given emphasis.