Transformation of the agricultural sector could be achieved through commercial distribution of improved seed and other essential inputs. Studies conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on investment options for poverty alleviation in Eastern and Southern Africa indicate that the most significant impact on poverty and growth will come from investments in a range of agricultural sub-sectors, particularly crops for export to regional markets (James et al., 2007).
Seed is a key factor in any agricultural production system. An effective seed system should guarantee availability of quality seed to farmers at the right time and place, and at affordable prices. Most farmers in South Sudan receive their seed supply through the informal seed system by saving from their own farms, or through gifts from relatives and neighbours, or by buying from local markets. At present, seed aid provides the largest portion of seed that reaches farmers. The formal seed system, which produces improved varieties, is not well organised.
The largest portion of the formal seed system in South Sudan currently depends on imported varieties. A formal seed system guided by a regulatory framework, which produces seed of modern varieties in an organised chain of institutions specialised in the conservation of genetic resources; plant breeding, seed production, seed quality control; and seed marketing and distribution, is beinginitiated by MAFTAFCRD in collaboration with development partners such as AGRA, the Dutch Government and USAID.
Seed supply systems serve to make seed available to the users and guarantee sufficient quantities of good quality seed are available to farmers, at the right time and at an affordable price. Most of the farmers in South Sudan, similarly to elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, obtain their seeds through the informal system. Farmers save seed from their crops from year to year, receive seed from neighbours and relatives, or buy seed from local markets. A large proportion of farmers still depend on aid agencies for their seed