Tree Seed and Seedling Supply Systems: A Review of the Asia, Africa and Latin America Models
Institutional innovation in providing inputs and services is a central element for smallholder development. Agroforestry is an important income generating activity for millions of smallholders in the tropics, yet access to quality planting material—germplasm—of valuable tree species remains a major hurdle for improving farm productivity. We discuss requirements and possibilities for institutional innovation in developing more efficient delivery systems for tree germplasm as one aspect of improved input supply. We describe a simple model for delivery to farmers that identifies the major types of germplasm sources and discuss how this model can be used to identify relevant interventions to address bottlenecks in current systems. Our analysis leads to eight input supply configurations for smallholder agroforestry, typified by three major models. Lessons from the evolution of smallholder crop seed delivery systems can be applied to tree germplasm supply and indicate that a commercial, decentralised model holds most promise for sustainability. However, current emphasis in agroforestry on government and NGO models of delivery hinder the development of this approach. The application of prevailing classification approaches may also create a barrier to the development of appropriate supply systems that effectively service smallholders. An important implication of our analysis is that current actors in agroforestry input supply systems must redefine their roles in order for effective delivery to take place. We chose a case study from Kenya to illustrate our points.