Feb 24, 2017 - Policy Output

Local Seed Company Fills a Niche to Increase Maize Productivity in Kenya

Feed the Future with UC-Davis BASIS Policy Brief

BY MICHAEL CARTER, MARY MATHENGE, SAMUEL BIRD, TRAVIS LYBBERT, TIMOTHY NJAGI AND EMILIA TJERNSTRÖM

“Kenya’s Western Seed Company (WSC) built its business on maize varieties selected to perform well in mid-altitude regions. This model of developing seed fine-tuned to niche agro-ecological environments may help to increase smallholder agricultural productivity. In a randomized controlled trial, we evaluated the impacts of WSC’s commercial expansion in both mid- and higher-altitude regions of Kenya. We find that in mid-altitude regions, the option to purchase WSC maize seed unambiguously increased productivity, but most significantly among better-resourced farmers who had historically used hybrid seed. This suggests that financial constraints limit the impacts of even an appropriate seed technology in a poor population.”