The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has prepared this policy discussion document as a contribution towards national and regional seed policies in Africa that recognise and support farmer seed systems. The document is an effort to synthesise the policy issues emerging from our research and advocacy work on farmer seed systems in the past few years.

The discussion document considers a range of policy issues including plant variety protection (PVP), distinct, uniform and stable (DUS) and value for cultivation and use (VCU) tests, variety registration, seed production quality controls, storage and packaging, and phytosanitary measures.

There are two specific areas of proposal: the first looks at exemptions and recognition for farmer varieties outside the commercial system, the second looks at flexibility within the prevailing regime. Conceptually, the seed sector is divided into production of farmer varieties and open pollinated varieties (OPVs) below a threshold of production; farmer varieties above the production threshold; certified OPV production above the threshold for designated groups of producers (including, for example, farmer-owned enterprises and cooperatives, or other groups defined at national level); and large-scale commercial producers outside the designated producer groups. Different combinations of exemptions and flexibilities are proposed for each of these categories.