Seed Savers Network believes in ecological agriculture which ensures healthy farming and healthy food. We work to protect the soil, water and the climate. We achieve this by training our farmers on use of farm inputs which does not contaminate the environment. We are a member of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association.
For realization of this objective, we have set suitable farming technologies for training farmers and visitors at our demonstration garden. One of the methods is vertical bag farming which has also been very beneficial to our staff
during the dry period in supply of vegetables. Vertical bag farming increases water utilization efficiency, Promotes agro-biodiversity conservation by planting together various local vegetables, ideal for steady supply of vegetables to
households, requires less labour, suitable for farming without use of chemicals, can be a component of landscaping in residential areas, utilizes idle and available small space for conversion to kitchen gardens and finally is a suitable farming model for urban farmers.
Through our extension department we train and establish these gardens to urban farmers as a package. Beneficiaries enjoy self-reliance on supply of vegetables for their domestic use and avails the surplus to their neighbors to earn extra income. We enhance the project also by ensuring diverse seed access to urban farming community.
Technology is transforming farmers’ lives through improving efficiency and speed of disseminating information to a large group at the same time. At this era of technological advancement, Farmers need to shift from their traditional
way of extension where extension officers were expected to visit and train them in their farms. This limited the number reached due various human and financial resources constraints.
This made our organization to adopt e-extension twitter tool to reach and train our small-scale farmers easily. The model is cost saving and easily accessible by our members who own mobile phones. Just by a tweet hundreds of
of farmers receive the information.
Our extension department has summarized various areas of training in seed production and ecological agriculture with a transmission plan to ensure farmers obtain the information regularly. When this information is tweeted beneficiaries receive it as a short text message. This information tool is suitable and most convenient as our farmers receive a tweet message without any limitation of the type of phone or internet connectivity.
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.