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November 7th, 2018 / Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Farmers’ access to seeds is the focus of a new project ‘Access to seeds: From emergencies to seed system development’, led by Ola Westengen and funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN).

Seeds are vital for food security and are a fundamental asset for the majority of rural communities in the global South. At the same time, seeds are ‘big business’ in economic terms. Tension between the social and economic aspects of seed is the reason for many ‘seed struggles’ around the world. Beyond controversies over ownership and breeding technologies, what really determines if farmers and food systems are ‘seed secure’?

Understanding seed use

The diversity of crop species and varieties is the biological basis for our food systems. For this diversity to contribute to food security, it must be accessible to those growing the food – farmers must be seed secure. This project (ACCESS) seeks to understand and strengthen farmers’ access to preferred and well-adapted crop varieties.

Instead of starting from a standpoint of assumptions on what types of seeds are best, ACCESS puts farmers’ livelihoods and preferences at the centre of the analysis. The project will generate research-based knowledge and innovations for seed security as well as humanitarian and agricultural development in three African countries: Malawi, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Read more