Crowdsourcing Crop Improvement in Sub‐Saharan Africa: A Proposal for a Scalable and Inclusive Approach to Food Security

Jacob van Etten
Volume 42 Issue 4
Published: 28 June 2011
Abstract: In sub‐Saharan Africa, modern varieties released by the formal seed sector cover only a small part of the total crop acreage. Participatory approaches to crop improvement and seed production have been developed to overcome some of the barriers to modern variety development and seed distribution, but have not been widely scaled up. Crowdsourcing, such as seen in online citizen science projects, might inspire new approaches to upscale farmer‐participatory seed innovation, specifically aiming at household food production. Using mobile technology, African farmers may be engaged in massively evaluating and distributing seeds. It is argued that a crowdsourcing approach to seed innovation would not only be scalable, but also inclusive through the strengthening of crop diversity as an open informational resource.
From Issue: Vol 42, No 4 (2011) | The Politics of Seed in Africa’s Green Revolution