Planting Seeds


Formal and local seed systems

Local seed systems
The local system is also sometimes called the “informal,” “traditional,” or “farmer” seed system. As we shall see below, the formal and local seed systems are not always as distinct or separated as the two labels may imply.

Formal seed systems

The formal seed system is easier to characterize, as it is a deliberately constructed system that involves a chain of activities leading to clear products: a certified seed of verified varieties. The chain usually starts with plant breeding and selection, resulting in different types of varieties, including hybrids, and promotes materials leading to formal variety release and maintenance. Guiding principles in the formal system are to maintain varietal identity and purity and to produce seed of optimal physical, physiological and sanitary quality. Certified seed marketing and distribution take place through a limited number of officially recognized seed outlets, usually for financial sale). The central premise of the formal system is that there is a clear distinction between “seed” and “grain.” This distinction is less clear in the local, farmer seed system.