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Seventh Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Maize Conference 11th – 15th February, 2001. pp. 474-479 MARKET STRUCTURE AND CONDUCT OF THE HYBRID MAIZE SEED INDUSTRY, A CASE STUDY OF THE TRANS NZOIA DISTRICT IN WESTERN KENYA Elizabeth Nambiro 1, Hugo de Groote2 and Willis Oluoch Kosura 1 1 University of Nairobi, Department of Agricultural Economics, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya. 2 International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), PO Box 25171-00603, Nairobi, Kenya 2 corresponding author. ABSTRACT To understand the organization of the market and assess the degree of competition in maize hybrid seed production and retailing, the structure and conduct of the market was analyzed in Trans Nzoia District, a major maize producing area in Western Kenya. The structure of the market was analyzed in four aspects, namely: market concentration, product differentiation, market integration and conditions for entry in the hybrid maize seed business. The market conduct considered behaviour and activities of the participants, in particular concerning pricing and promotion. Primary data were obtained randomly from a random sample of 30 traders, out of a total of 46 who sell hybrid maize seed within the district, and 30 farmers within the district. Data were collected at the peak of the planting season in the months of February to April 2000. Results show that there is some impact of the liberalization of the seed industry on the distribution side, but it is minimal on the production side. The major impact in the district is that the previous Kenya Farmers’ Association’s monopoly of seed distribution has been reduced and that now there are many seed traders in retail. Analysis of the market structure reveals that several factors favour imperfect competition in the hybrid maize seed marketing at the retail level, including include unequally distributed shares of transactions among traders, product differentiation, and barriers to entry. The distribution, with a Gini Coefficient of 0.6 in the district, is categorized as oligopolistic, with 61.67% of the market share going to the 4 largest firms. Interviews with traders indicate that conditions for competition were lacking mainly due to barriers to entry such as institutional restrictions and high initial capital. However, traders did not collude among themselves to decide on prices or control sales volume. On the production side, Kenya Seed Company still provides 96.7% of the hybrid maize seed sold in Trans Nzoia District, with Pioneer Company providing the remaining 3.3% of the market share, a clear monopolistic seed production. Farmers showed their preference for the variety H614. They also complained about KSC’s perceived inefficiency, and lack of purity of their seed. Unfortunately, they have few alternatives since only KSC offers the late maturing varieties recommended for the moist transitional and highland zones, while the Pioneer variety available (PHB3253) is of intermediate maturity. Recommendations for the seed industry include improved inspection to improve the seed quality, increased access to credit for traders to increase entry, and increased competition in the seed production through encouraging the development of new late maturing varieties, reducing the requirement to release new varieties, and reducing the import tax on seed. Keywords: Hybrid maize seed industry, seed companies, liberalization of seed marketing, monopolistic, oligopolistic. INTRODUCTION Kenya shows signs of following this general trend. The seed industry is subject to the "Seeds and Plant Varieties The maize industry in Africa is undergoing rapid Act" of 1991. Unfortunately, a clearly stated seed policy is changes. After independence, most governments continued still missing (Ochuodho et al., 1999). Formerly, research, the policies of tight market control that were put in place by production and distribution was a government monopoly, colonial governments, in order to protect the farmers and dominated by public enterprises such as the Kenya stabilize prices. Over the years, it became clear that the Agriculture Research Institute (KARI), Kenya Seed exclusion of market forces and reliance on bureaucracies was Company (KSC), and the Agricultural Development not an efficient way to harmonize supply and demand, and Corporation (ADC). In 1996, liberalization of the seed the system became increasingly inefficient. Under pressure industry was implemented, to improve efficiency in the from the donor community, many countries liberalized the industry and increase seed purity, among other objectives. food crop marketing as well as the fertilizer market (Byerlee Experience from other countries has shown that deregulating and Heisey, 1997). Pressure for liberalization in the seed the trade of inputs can lead to significant increases in the industry also led to reforms in this sector. Across countries, range and quality of inputs available to farmers, which in turn the maize seed industry development seems to follow a raises productivity and income (Gisselquist and Grether, common path (Morris, Rusike and Smale. 1998). In the early 2000). stages of the seed industry, only the public sector can make The growing size and increased commercialization of the necessary heavy investment for research, development, the global maize economy have been accompanied by an and marketing of seed. However, when the sector expands expansion in the industries that provide inputs used in maize and develops, seed production and distribution becomes production especially improved seed, chemical fertilizers, increasingly interesting for the private sector. In the final pesticides and machinery. stages, the private sector can take over increasing parts of the Over time as the global maize seed industry has research too. matured, it has undergone a series of restructuring and 474 NAMBIRO ET AL.: MARKET STRUCTURE AND CONDUCT OF THE HYBRID MAIZE SEED INDUSTRY 475 organizational changes. The nature and pace of these changes market structure and conduct. We will test that by studying if have varied among countries, reflecting differences in stages new companies have entered the market, if farmers' access to of development and the structure of production from one hybrid maize seed has improved, and if their price has country to the next, as well as differences in the economic, decreased. The study was limited to the Trans-Nzoia district, political and institutional climates. The net result has been a the district with the highest maize production in the country. global maize seed industry comprising a conglomerate of different types of national seed industries that vary widely in MATERIALS AND METHODS their organization and performance (Morris, 1998 ;CIMMYT 1994). 2.1. Selection of the sample and data collection In most industrialized countries, the maize seed industry is now largely in the hands of the private sector. The The sampling frame was a list of all 46 hybrid maize roles of the public institutions like the universities, research seed retailers from the licensing department of Trans Nzoia institutes, and extension organizations, which once district (Figure 1). Of this group, a random sample of 30 dominated maize research and technology transfer activities, retailers was chosen. Primary data were collected through use have diminished as private companies have steadily of a structured questionnaire, by single visit personal expanded their sphere of influence to take advantage of profit interviews. The data included sales volumes for February– opportunities offered by an increasingly commercialized and April 2000, by variety. A group of 30 farmers were input-dependent maize economy (Morris, Rusike and Smale, randomly selected from a list of farmers in the district; 1998). Public organizations continue to play an important available at the district agricultural office, Ministry of role in the technology development and transfer process, but Agriculture. Data were collected through use of a structured they do so within an increasingly narrow and specialized questionnaire, by single visit personal interviews in April realm. For instance, the focus of publicly funded research has 2000. The data were collected between February and April shifted towards more basic research. Very few publicly because this is the peak planting season. funded maize researchers now operate towards the applied Secondary data were obtained from various seed end of the research spectrum, for example developing and companies, published and unpublished reports, public testing finished hybrids because private companies have libraries, KARI and any past studies carried out were used as assumed these functions. Many technology transfer activities sources of secondary information have also been carried out by the private sector. For instance, To detect product differentiation in the market, the today a maize farmer in Europe or the United States is likely packages offered for sale were listed. In addition, traders to look first to their input dealer rather than the local were interviewed to reveal different after sales services they government extension agent for technical advice on how to receive from wholesalers. The services traders provided to manage their crop. farmers were also recorded. The types of maize seed sold in If the steadily growing world maize economy has terms of kg per packet were examined for retailers. The provided the impetus for the private sector seed industry to retailers were asked if the farmers asked for specific expand, economies of scale in research and seed production kg/packet of maize seed or if they asked for a specific variety have contributed to its increasing concentration. The 1980s of maize seed. The above questions were aimed at finding out and 1990s have witnessed an unprecedented wave of mergers the farmers’ awareness of the differentiated products in the and consolidations during which a large group of market. independent seed companies have been bought out by, or Market conduct explains the behavioral characteristics merged with, larger competitors. In the United States, for in the market place. Price and promotions are the two example, although the 7 largest companies currently control variables which were used to determine the market conduct. about 70% of the market for maize seed, 300 other Traders were asked whether they set prices of hybrid maize companies also produce and sell maize seed. (Norskog, seed individually or by colluding with each other, and also if 1995). they jointly restricted the amount of seed for sale to raise the In developing countries, the maize seed industry is market price. Traders were also asked the type of promotions more variable in organization and performance (Tripp, 2000). they carried out to advertise the hybrid maize seed. The In countries where maize is produced mainly by small-scale, degree of integration also shows the power of participants in subsistence–oriented farmers using low levels of purchased making price decisions. Thus vertical integration may inputs, private firms have demonstrated an understandable eliminate price as a coordinator between market levels, reluctance to enter the market. In these countries, maize especially when the market is informal or weak. Integration research, seed production and seed distribution are generally in the hybrid maize seed market is examined by determining carried out by public organizations. (Morris, Rusike and if there are contracts on quantity of seed delivered by seed Smale, 1998). companies to wholesalers or by wholesalers to retailers. Ndambuki (1998) indicated in his case study that in Other forms of integration such as extension of credit seed marketing three closely associated aspects have to be between traders were assessed. considered and they were products, customers and the Barriers to entry were determined by establishing the competitors in the seed industry. He failed to elaborate threshold capital required for starting business. At the same further on the market structure and conduct of the three time, sources of the funds and the current operational costs aspects mentioned above. This gap leads to this study, which were analyzed to determine both the diversity and ease of analyzes the market structure and conduct thus clarifying the access to credit to facilitate entry. The role of Government in elaborate relationships of the three aspects named above. licensing, checking quality standards and creating The present paper aims to analyze if the deregulation of bureaucratic laws were analyzed as part of possible barriers the Kenyan seed industry had the desired effect. We want to to entry. test the hypothesis that liberalization resulted in increased Interviews with 30 farmers were conducted to competitiveness in hybrid maize seed market, by studying the determine the popular maize varieties and the problems 476 farmers encounter when using hybrid seed dominated by Open Pollinated Varieties (OPV), while maize seed in the high potential areas, including Trans Nzoia, is ANALYSIS almost uniquely hybrid seed. Much of the seed of improved crop varieties has The perfect competition market model is often used in reached farmers through the formal sub-sector, which was economics as a standard by which structure and conduct of until recently a government monopoly. Research, production markets can be compared and evaluated. Large numbers of and distribution was dominated by public enterprises such as buyers and sellers, low barrier to entry, product homogeneity the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI), Kenya and complete knowledge of alternative choices on the part of Seed Company (KSC), the Agricultural Development producer and consumer characterize the competitive market Corporation (ADC) and the Kenyan Farmers’ Association model. (KFA). Although the Kenya Seed Company has the structure Structure influences market performance and conduct. of a private company, at the time of the study the majority of Knowledge regarding structure can give indications about shares in the company (52%) were still owned by the competitiveness. The variables used to explain market government, the rest by KFA and private individuals. After structure are the degree of market concentration, vertical and liberalization, new companies entered the hybrid seed horizontal integration, and condition of entry in the market market, in particular the Oil Crop Development Company and magnitude of product differentiation. A market (OCD), Monsanto, Pioneer, and Western Seed Company. concentration ratio is a measure of the percentage share of Seed quality control was previously in the hands of the market controlled by a specified percentage of firms KARI, but with the liberalization a regulatory agency, the ranked in order of market share from the largest to smallest Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), was (Karugia, 1990). High concentration and inequality indicate established. KEPHIS is responsible for the National oligopolistic tendencies, while conversely, low concentration Performance Trials (NPT), in which varieties need to show suggests tendencies towards competition provided there are good results before they can be released. After release, no serious barriers to entry into the market (Bain, 1951, KEPHIS inspects seed farms and production plants, and 1968). certifies the seed if the required standards are met. To measure market share, the monthly turnover (in kg Certification of seed is a legal requirement in Kenya. of maize seed) of each of the 30 retailers was recorded. The retailers were divided into 5 classes. From the stratification it MARKET STRUCTURE was found which class controls the highest percentage of transactions. From the above turnover, the Lorenz curves Trans-Nzoia produced 232,560 tons of maize in 1998, were constructed. Also, to assess retailer concentration the more than any other district in Kenya. It also has the highest average monthly seed sales of retailers were recorded during yield, 3.6 t/ha (estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture). The the survey and sales shares of the first 4 and 8 largest 1999 census counted 575,000 people in Trans-Nzoia district, retailers in the sample calculated. The Gini Coefficient is a with a population growth of 2.9 %/year. Extrapolating for comparative measure of inequality in share distribution that 1998, the maize production was 416 kg/person, also the is the most commonly used in income distribution studies. It highest in the country. has the range 0 to 1 and oligopolistic behaviour increases as In the district, 46 traders are licensed to sell seed. A the coefficient approaches 1 while the market becomes most sample of 30 was selected for the survey. Hybrid maize seed competitive as the Gini Coefficient tends to 0 (Scheid and is only a small part of their commercial activities. Most stores Sutenan, 1979; Andic and Peacock, 1961). If all traders are are first of all hardware stores or they sell agricultural divided into k classes by decreasing volumes of seed sales, inorganic inputs. Average monthly hybrid seed sales for the the Gini Coefficient R can be expressed as: R= Σik=2 (Pk –1 qk - study period, February to April 2000, ranged from Kshs. Pkqk-1) * 1/10,000 where: P = the cumulative percentage of 11,200 (100 kg) to Kshs. 12,096,000 (108 tons). Older firms traders by class k; k = the order of class of traders; and q = were generally firms with high turnover, had been in the cumulative percentage of volume or values of commodity existence for a long time and had earned consumer loyalty sold by each group of traders. Table 1. Average monthly value of hybrid maize seed RESULTS transacted by sample retail traders (February-April 2000), (organised in six classes according to sales History of the seed industry in Kenya volume) Average value of Total monthly Class Number Class In the seed industry, formal and informal sub-sectors seed sales value of seed % of of Relative (Million Kshs sales total can be distinguished. The informal sub-sector deals mostly in per month)a retailers frequency (Million Kshs) sales. farmers' own local seed, which is either saved from own <0.5 11 36.6 1.92 4.0 production, bought from the local market, or obtained seed from neighbours. In the formal seed sub-sector, on the other 0.5-1.0 7 23.3 4.50 9.4 hand, there is an established and legal process for the 1.0-1.5 5 16.6 5.82 12.1 movement of seed from research, over seed producer, to the farmer. The informal seed sector is important in the low 1.5-2.0 2 6.6 3.90 8.1 potential areas at the coast (Wekesa et al., 2003), around 2.0-2.5 1 3.3 2.24 4.7 Lake Victoria (Saylasya et al., 1998) and the dry zones > 2.5 4 13.3 29.57 61.7 (Muhammad, 2003). The formal seed sector dominates in the high potential areas such as the moist transitional (Ouma et Total 30 100.0 47.95 100.0 al., 2002) and the highlands (Hassan et al., 1998). Improved a Average retail price of 1 kg of hybrid maize seed = 114 KSh, seed from the formal sector in the low potential areas is $US 1 = Ksh 74. NAMBIRO ET AL.: MARKET STRUCTURE AND CONDUCT OF THE HYBRID MAIZE SEED INDUSTRY 477 Figure 2: Lorenz curve for the traders of hybrid maize control only 10% of sales volume, while the largest 15% lof seed in Trans Nzoia traders control 60%. PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION Nine hybrid maize seed varieties are currently being sold in Trans Nzoia District. Six are varieties of KSC’s late maturity 600 series (H614, H622, H625, H626, H627, H628), two represent KSC's medium maturity series (H511, H512), and one variety is from Pioneer namely PHB3253. The KSC seed is bought straight from the producer, who is based in Kitale, center of Trans-Nzoia, while Freshco Company, a marketing agent of Pioneer seed, distributes PHB3253. The survey showed that 96.7% of the retailers sold seed from the Kenya Seed Company while only 3.3% sold seed from Pioneer Company. KSC does not allow their distributors to sell seed from other companies. The packaging of Kenya Seed Company varieties was in packets of 2kg, 5kg, 10kg, and 25kg. The KSC could occasionally package 50kg on order from an individual consumer. Within a variety the different sizes of packets are Table 2. Prices of maize seed in Trans-Nzoia, per package rightly regarded as differentiated product lines. The traders and per kg revealed that 100% of their customers were aware of the price/package price/kg various variety types in the market, the size and rang, and buyers often based their choices on these factors. KSC has, Package size 2 5 10 25 2 5 10 25 however, a strict constant price policy: retailers are required KSC seed 225 560 1120 2800 113 112 112 112 to sell all seed at the same price, regardless of package, type Pioneer seed 335 750 1599 168 150 160 (hybrid or open pollinated), or place (centre of the city or rural market). Occasionally some traders provide different after sales services to the farmers. Transport services to the nearest bus loyalty over time. station were provided by 36.7% of the traders while 3.3% of the traders provide extension services to the customers. The To study market concentration, the retail traders were moment product differentiation sets in homogeneity divided into 6 groups (see Table 1 for specifications), by decreases and so does market competition segments of 500,000 Ksh (1 $US = Ksh 74, at the time of the study, February-March 2000). The retail traders have also been classified into small, medium and large-scale with BARRIERS TO ENTRY arbitrary cut-off levels of hybrid maize seed values. Traders with sales of less or equal to Ksh. one million The retailers frequently mentioned two barriers to entry per month comprise 60% of the total number of traders in the hybrid maize seed market retailing system: institutional sampled, but only have a small market share (13% of the restrictions and initial capital requirements. The initial capital total sales). The medium size traders (between 1 and 3 requirement was at least Kshs. 50,000, relatively high million Ksh per month) comprised 27% of the total traders compared to the wage rates in the country. 0f the traders and had a market share of only 24.67% of the total sales. The interviewed, 60% said that it was difficult to obtain the initial group of large traders (> 3 million Ksh/month) comprised capital. Only 6.7% obtained a loan from the bank, 10% only 13.3% of the total traders but had more than 61% of the received funding from the cooperatives, and one trader total market. obtained initial capital from Pioneer Seed Company. So 80% Following Bain's classification (Bain 1951), based on of the traders relied on savings only for their initial capital. distribution of sales over the different groups, the Trans Due to the fairly high initial capital requirement, entry for Nzoia hybrid maize seed retailing system was judged as seed sellers is difficult and provides protection to those being moderately to highly concentrated. already established. An alternative way of studying the degree of market The Kenya Seed Company requires retailers to be concentration is by drawing the Lorenz curve, which depicts recommended by the divisional agricultural officer. Most the cumulative distribution of sales against cumulative seed sellers expressed disgust at the nightmares they had to distribution of traders (Figure 2. The surface of the area go through before getting a letter of recommendation from between the Lorenz curve and the diagonal of the graph (A), the divisional agricultural officers in the Ministry of divided by the area under the diagonal (A+B) represents the Agriculture. KSC then provides the retailer with a licence Gini coefficient, an indicator of inequality in distribution card to sell the seed. Unfortunately, the issue of this card can ranging from 0 to 1 (0 = absolute equality, 1 = complete take months, sometimes years. inequality). The Gini coefficient for inequality in market The regulatory framework requires a traders’ license shares was found to be 0.63. A Gini Coefficient higher than from the government, but this is generally issued without any 0.4 can be considered as oligopolistic (Parker and Connor, problems. The license is issued annually by the municipal 1979) so the retail market for hybrid maize seed in Trans councilman, and amounts in practice to a tax by the local Nzoia exhibits clear oligopolistic tendencies. The Lorenz government. The cost of the license depends on the total sales curve shows, for example, that the smallest 50% of traders volume of the trader, including maize seed. In most cases 478 traders start their business without a license, which the varieties and can easily identify the different varieties in the municipal council will eventually issue after assessing the mixed seed. Ninety-six point seven percent of the farmers sales volume realized. None of the traders limited themselves admitted that they did not use the new PHB3253 seed to seed, as they indicated that seed retailing was a seasonal because it was low yielding and easily rots in storage. The business and not a reliable source of income during the rest two main reasons as to why the PHB3253 seed is unable to of the year. penetrate the market is that it is a seed for mid-altitude zones and so cannot yield highly in highlands like the H600 series INTEGRATION AND CONTRACTUAL produced by the Kenya Seed Company and farmers are aware AGREEMENTS of that. Also due to the high import duty imposed on it, it further reflects on the high buying prices and so becomes The survey revealed that there is some horizontal more expensive than the locally produced seed of the Kenya integration: four of the hybrid maize seed retailers Seed Company thus raising production costs. interviewed owned two shops and one had three shops. It would be difficult to accept the notion that retailers acquired CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS more than one seed shop so as to improve their efficiency. Since KSC determines the prices, the integrated shops can The analysis of market structure reveals that there are only achieve to increase their turnover and hence the profits. factors that favour imperfect competition in Trans Nzoia Vertical integration was depicted by KSC, which acted as a hybrid maize seed marketing at the retail level. These include manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer as it contained a seed unequally distributed shares of transactions among traders, shop, which sold seed to consumers at retail price. Again, this the existence of product differentiation and barriers to entry. integration is not expected to increase efficiency but only to However, based on the Gini Coefficient of 0.6 the market is increase the sales volume of the company. categorized as oligopolistic. The impact of liberalization intended for the seed industry has so far had minimal impact MARKET CONDUCT on the production side in the seed industry, but some impact on the distribution side. The only impact in the District is that Farmers can buy their maize seed directly from KSC, the monopoly of distribution of the seed initially done by or from agents, subagents and retailers. The prices differ at KFA has been reduced and now there are many traders in the various marketing channel levels, but are all set by KSC. seed retailing. In spite of the fact that the government The KSC prices are uniform all over the country and do not allowed other companies in the seed industry, KSC still has consider transportation costs. Pricing in any one given year 96.7% of the market share in the District indicating that there or season is fixed but is reviewed periodically and is still a monopoly of seed produced. determined by seed producing companies. Traders on the Some recommendations for the seed industry include outskirts of Kitale town made minimal profits as improved inspection, increased access to credit, and transportation costs were incurred, further reducing the profit increased competition. First, KEPHIS should introduce stern margins. Due to lack of incentives by the traders outside punishment for the seed companies who give adulterated town to sell seed, farmers were forced to travel to Kitale to seed to unsuspecting farmers and ensure that farmers get pure purchase seed. The effect was that some farmers purchased seed. Second, the government should facilitate easier access enough seed for two seasons so as to lower costs of going to credit so more traders can enter the business. One way is to back to Kitale to search for seed. encourage micro-finance organizations to offer credit to The survey also revealed that since Pioneer 's traders so that they can expand their businesses. Third, introduction in Trans Nzoia, it has hardly been able to competition in the seed production sector should be penetrate the market, with a share of only 3.3% of sales. encouraged. Finally, The Kenya Agricultural Research Pioneer’ seed is more expensive (Table 2), but its major Institute should develop more late maturing varieties and problem is that the variety offered (PHB3253), is of offer them to different seed companies. Barriers to entry for intermediate maturity, while KSC offers late maturing importers could be relaxed, in particular the costly mandatory varieties in their 600 series, which are recommended for the three year National Performance Trials. Finally, Government area. should consider lowering the import tax on seed, as it did for Seed promotions are mainly undertaken by Kenya Seed fertilizer, to make agricultural inputs cheaper to farmers. Company at places such as the Agriculture Society of Kenya and Harambee shows, and through the mass media. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Farmers' view of the hybrid maize seed industry The authors appreciate the financial support from the and the seed performance. Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Development through the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) project, and the H614 variety was ranked first by almost all the farmers technical and logistical support from CIMMYT- Nairobi and followed by H625 and H628. The farmers gave the the University of Nairobi. Special thanks go to the traders advantages of H614 mainly as being: high yielding, disease and farmers who graciously offered their time for our and insect resistant, less rotting in fields and during storage, discussions. less lodging and finally good tasting. The farmers complained about the impurity of the seed from Kenya Seed REFERENCES Company, as it was a mixture of different varieties. They indicated that they buy seed under one varietal name but Andic and Peacock. 1961. 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