Impact of Seed Innovation and Polices on Maize Productivity in Kenya

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Lingyun Shen
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The technical innovation in agriculture inputs, in particular with regard to seed related- innovations has resulted in enhanced crop yields in several parts of the developing world. In Kenya maize is a major staple food crop for over 80 % of the population. The Kenyan maize story has been often quoted as one of the success cases in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The major reasons have been partly due to the focused investments in R&D of developing new varieties – exploiting hybrid vigor in maize to attain higher yields, and enabling agricultural policies encouraging the use of agri-inputs in general. The adoption of improved varieties in Kenya also have increased over years and the recent studies indicate nearly 72 % of the maize area is under improved maize cultivars. In this research study, we have examined if the maize research system outputs have had any effect on maize productivity levels in Kenya since 1964. Though number of maize seed based innovation - in terms of new releases (currently 354 released varieties) have significantly increased in the last decade, the yields have been relatively ‘stagnant’ in Kenya. There are several factors that affect the yield, ranging from weather patterns, to use of external inputs (apart from seeds) and also policies regarding maize development in Kenya. In this research paper the relationship between ‘maize productivity levels’ and ‘seed related innovations’ in iii Kenya has been examined through a two-stage least squares regression model, where ‘the seed innovations (# of cultivar releases since 1964) has been endogenously determined through the seed market size, the level of plant variety protection, fertilizer imports and maize producer prices. In general, the maize yields in Kenya are significantly influenced by the increased number of cultivars available for use (seed-innovations); increased levels of investment in public sector R&D; and rainfall received. Though private sector presence is a significant factor in Kenyan seed industry, the impact is over-shadowed by the presence of para-statal (Kenya seed company), occupying more than 70 % of maize seed market share. These results have varied policy implications; ranging from the role of R&D investments in agriculture in general and policy reforms needed to liberalize Kenyan seed industry to improve the stagnating yields.
Agriculture, Maize, Productivity, Economic growth