Seed supply mechanism for communal farmers have
increasingly become unreliable and unpredictable.
Frequently farmers cannot obtain their seed on time as
either the seed is not readily available on the local market
or available varieties are not suitable for local conditions.
Crop failure is common due to late planting directly linked
to late availability of seed and the poor adaptability of
these available varieties to local agro-ecological and socio-
economic conditions. Recurrent droughts have also
resulted in local seed stocks being exhausted because seed
is being converted into food and the stocks are not being
replenished year in year out due to crop failure.
In Tanzania for example commercial producers of certified
seed are not available in remote districts and local
business people are reluctant to stock seed because
demand is uncertain. The varieties developed by the
official seed companies are often promoted by national and
local extension agencies although they have been
developed for higher potential areas.
Figure 1: Maragwa Seed Show,
Kenya. The Seed Show enables
The long-term food security for communal farmers has
been worsened by ad-hoc welfare interventions by both
Governments and Non-Governmental Organisations
farmers to exchange knowledge
on seed types. Photo: Practical Action
/ Patrick Mulvany.
(NGOs). Food aid packages have been expanded to include
food components to cater for short-term and immediate needs and seed packs for agricultural
recovery purposes, which is often sourced from outside the areas they are distributed and at
worst from outside the countries of their distribution.
These welfare interventions have managed to avert famines in the short term but have impacted
negatively on crop diversity and long-term food security.
In response to these institutional shortcomings in responding to community seed requirements
and in an effort to build local capacity to meet seed needs, there has been a growing emphasis in
community driven seed supply mechanisms. However whilst this shift did espouse appreciation
and the importance of local capacities such as farmers’ own knowledge, they have continued to
be strongly based on preconceived ideas on which varieties were best for farmers.
The main purpose of any fair is to provide a specialised market place where not only traders
display their products and buyers come to purchase, but it is specialised since it normally deals
in one sector, examples are Building Fairs and Agricultural Fairs. A seed fair is as the name
suggests, a fair specialising in seed and is normally organised at a local or village level.
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