The well-known saying that ends with “ . . . teach a man to fish, he’ll eat forever” addresses livelihood – a person’s means to provide their own basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing, education, and dependent care. Sometimes livelihood simply means a job – a way to bring cash to pay the bills. In the developing world, livelihood more often means self-employment, and most often means a piecemeal strategy that assembles a patchwork of resources to sustain a person or family.
Vegetable seeds give food and livelihood together. As anyone knows who has grown a garden, it can be hard to get past diseases, pests, and weather to harvest time, but once you do, it’s easy to end up with excess.
Even in remote, impoverished areas, we hear again and again that some vegetables are sold as soon as they are produced—even by those facing hunger and malnutrition. These sales pay for school fees, medicines, tools, and more seeds.
One shipment of SPI seeds can sow hundreds or thousands of gardens – and such large-scale efforts will give rise to even more micro-businesses. Some may start to save vegetable seeds for resale. Others will help with harvest, storage, or taking vegetables to market.