How can it be when a small scale farmer located far away from towns and agro-shops can easily obtain diverse seeds from neighboring farmers or a community seed bank? The challenge of delayed planting due to transportation and money shortages to access seeds could be solved .Our farming communities would be food secure and enjoy food sovereignty.
Some farmers working with Seed Savers Network have started to reap these benefits. ‘I have seeds in the seed bank ready for planting, ’Teresia Muthoni chairlady
of Mwitamayu Women group Narrates to Willy Douma from Hivos Netherlands and Prasad Krishna from India as she displays other seeds she got from other farmers in a seed fair organized by Seed Savers Network.
These benefits can also reach many farmers across the country through a vibrant open source seeds systems (OSSS).This model would bridge the current gap in diverse seed access and in promoting agro-biodiversity conservation. Open pollinated varieties are the most suitable for this model as they are fertilized through free cross pollination, ecologically adapted, and owned by local communities who are the custodians of these genetic materials.
Open source seed systems can be boosted through the development of community seed banks, collaborations among like-minded organizations, working closely with government agencies for an enabling environment and finally documenting cultural knowledge, seeds and economic value for commercialization.
This idea drove Hivos to initiate a workshop at Elemetaita-Nakuru county, with various stakeholders;Slowfood,PELUM,GBIAK,Action Aid,KOAN,Chaemp, Research
institutions (Egerton University) ,Seed Savers Network, Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, KEPHIS, Ministry of Agriculture policy section,Bioversity International, Media and farmers representatives gave their thoughts on how to enhance this in Kenya. Among areas of interests; Policy and legal framework, OSSS Entrepreneurship, documentation of indigenous seeds and multi-stakeholders platforms. The participants working in teams set their models and work plans to actualize them.
Carlo Fabba from Bioversity international gave experiences in Ethiopia where research work has boosted agro-biodiversity conservation. Interacting with Seed Savers
Network’s Research & Advocacy officer, Carlo commented on what he saw during seed safaris at our community seed bank. ‘You are on the track. Integrate research
institutions in your work. ‘He said
Seed savers network begun this journey in 2009 and momentum of local seed saving is growing each day. Empowering farming communities with skills and knowledge remains a core element in our approach. Beneficiaries are trained on high quality seed production and safe storage. The also participate in seed fairs for exchange and sharing of seeds.
The efforts of our farmers are further enhanced through market linkages. This is boosted through use of a database system with names, location and seed produced by the farmers. Interested buyers upon going through the catalog, orders the needed planting materials where they are connected with the producers.