Supply Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Decision Support System for Small-Scale Seed Entrepreneurs

B.J. J. Martens, K.P. P. Scheibe, Paul K. Bergey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


It is necessary to infuse a consistent supply of improved seed varieties into local sub-Saharan African crop production to improve low crop yieldsThe best distribution channel for the improved seed varieties may be small-scale commercial seed companies, but local entrepreneurs struggle to determine whether such businesses are viableUsing a multi-echelon supply chain approach, a decision support system (DSS) was designed to help African seed entrepreneurs make informed decisions about small-scale seed chain businessesSpecifically, entrepreneurs make decisions about where to locate seed enterprises, with which farmers to contract, and where to store seedOptimization and simulation modeling are used to evaluate infrastructure variables such as distance, transportation cost, and storage loss and cost in three development level areasCurrently, the decision tool is used in Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, and TanzaniaThe model has supported the start-up of at least 17 small seed companies that are now introducing improved seed varieties into villages and farmsThe DSS applies decision science research in a humanitarian application and offers important managerial implications about supply chain infrastructure to nongovernmental organizations and humanitarian groupsSuch applications are vital as groups such as USAID, the Gates Foundation, and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) continue to move toward micro-enterprise, value chain, and market-oriented development programs. © 2012 Decision Sciences Institute.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-759
Number of pages23
JournalDecision Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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