This report of an expert meeting explains the need to scale up the program by integrating farmers’ seeds into the market. It describes the possibilities, advantages and risks of farmer seed enterprise.
Seeds are fundamental for food security and are instrumental in generating wealth for rural economies. World-wide, most of smallholder farmers use their own farm-saved seeds (seeds harvested directly from farmers’ fields). In Africa this is as much as 90%. Hence, an important task for Oxfam Novib is to assist in ensuring seed security for the purpose of food security, and with the vision to generate more wealth for agrarian economies. Over the past ten years Oxfam Novib has been working with smallholder farmers in participatory variety selection and participatory plant breeding. This involves conservation of traditional varieties and developing new seeds by cross-breeding traditional and modern varieties to suit farmers’ diverse preferences and needs. In addition, Oxfam Novib has been working on policies at national and global levels for access and benefit sharing, for farmers to be able to continuously innovate and adapt to changing environments, markets and labor opportunities.