Commercial Production and Distribution

Problem: Seed of improved varieties in low-income countries has gone largely unadopted, which is limiting the upper bound of productivity that farmers can achieve.

Vision of a healthy system: Farmers are aware of new varieties and the benefits of replacing their old varieties with newer ones that are more productive, climate smart, and aligned with market demand (demand). Commercially sustainable production of high quality, improved seed of demanded varieties that is responsive to the evolving needs of farmers. Extensive and robust distribution network that enhances farmer access to improved varieties. The seed quality assurance system is fit-for-purpose, industry-respected, adequately resourced, efficiently managed, and adds more value to farmers than the costs it imposes.

Basis of Comparison: Benchmarking commercial seed producers within a country by their financial performance, customer segments, and key products. Comparative analysis of agro-dealers business models.

Assessment goal: To increase stakeholder knowledge about the prevailing business models for commercial seed production and distribution with a country and to identify costed interventions that capable of increasing the scale, resilience, and reach of seed enterprises and agro-dealers

Commercial survey will assess P&D business models, benchmark financial performance, and solicit perceptions on enabling components

Description of Methodology

Assessing the commercial seed sector’s vitality through company reported production volumes, customer segments, and key products.
The results will support seed companies to strengthen their business plans.

Key question: What role are agro-dealers playing in accelerating varietal turnover?

We evaluated the pros and cons of several surveying approaches and opted to pilot an SMS-based survey because of the potential speed and cost advantages over more intensive approaches

Discussion of Analysis / Outputs

Commercial Seed

Results will generate:

  • Benchmarking of the commercial seed industry
  • Tailored benchmark report to each organization surveyed
  • Attitudinal statistics on industry and enabling environment (user experience)


  • Peer benchmarking
  • Survey response data analysis

Impact Potential of Insights:

  • Informs seed producers on how they are performing relative to their peers
  • Provide seed producers and agricultural development stakeholders with information on growth enablers and inhibitors from the perspective of direct actors
  • Informs AGRA and donors on opportunities for intervention support


Results will generate:

  • Self-reported data on the size and scope of agro-dealers’ seed businesses (key products, volumes, and quality seed access) and attitudinal statistics on product knowledge and the quality assurance system

Scoring: Survey response data analysis

Impact Potential of Insights:

  • Informs policy markers, seed companies, and development stakeholders on the role that agro-dealers are playing to enable varietal turnover by supporting farmers’ access to improved varieties
  • Define the constraints that are limiting agro-dealer business performance and sector vitality

Final report to synthesize all of these elements and to outline high-level costed intervention options