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Tree Seed and Seedling Supply Systems

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The paper reviews tree seed and seedling supply systems in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. Across these regions, the review found that some of the germplasm supply systems do not efficiently meet farmers’ demands and environmental expectations in terms of productivity, species and genetic diversity. In some countries, germplasm used is mostly sourced from undocumented sources and often untested. Germplasm quality control systems are only found in a few countries. Appreciation of the value of tree germplasm of high genetic quality is low. Non-government organisations (NGOs) in many African countries play a prominent role in the supply of germplasm which is usually given to farmers without charge. The practice of giving farmers free germplasm by NGOs in many African countries and also government participation in germplasm supply in some Asian countries has been blamed for crowding out private entrepreneurs, although this is not substantiated by any evidence to suggest that the smallholder farmers are willing and able to pay for the germplasm. In some Latin American countries, private companies, government and NGOs provide farmers tree germplasm in a partnership in which farmers provide land and labour in return. Overall, tree germplasm markets are large in Asia, due in part to large afforestation programs, intermediate in Latin America and small in Africa where smallholder farmers constitute the market. In countries where germplasm quality control is practiced, it is either through a legal framework or voluntary. A few countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have developed protocols for certification of tree seeds based on the OECD. Some germplasm suppliers use branding as a way of differentiating their germplasm as having superior quality. To enhance the use of high quality germplasm, there is a need to demonstrate the value of using such germplasm and raise awareness of germplasm quality among the farmers and policy-makers.

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