Seed Programs International

Seed distribution with Seed Savers Network Kenya

Seed distribution with Seed Savers Network Kenya

Hi everyone,

Today’s update comes from Daniel Wanjama, Seed Savers Network Kenya (SSNK) Founder and Director. SSNK is a grassroots NGO headquartered southeast of Nakuru in Gilgil who works with resource-poor farmers to promote sustainable rural livelihoods. SSNK has strong support for women’s groups, providing access to agricultural training, good vegetable seed, tools, and other resources — you might remember Esther from our update early last year. We recently had the privilege of hearing several stories from Daniel’s work with the Gatume Women’s Group.

The Gatume Women’s Group

Women in the Gatume Women’s Group have traditionally farmed grains, primarily varieties of beans and maize. After connecting with Daniel and SSNK, some of the women started growing vegetables using seed provided by this project. Combined with training and support from agronomist extension visits, they had what they needed for the work ahead.

Ann, whose nursery is pictured in this update, began experimenting with coriander (or parsley). Coriander is often chosen as a livelihood crop since it requires less land than other crops and can be sold for a decent amount of money. Income is an important component for a farmer’s resilience because it transforms their gardening labor into the power of choice. With extra income, a farmer can keep her children in school, buy medicine, improve her home, and buy other kinds of food to round out her and her family’s diet. In the first season, Ann was able to sell her coriander to bring in extra income.

Ann shares, “Before I met the Seed Savers staff, I used to plant only maize and beans on my farm. I had not made any profit in the last two years, and an outbreak of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease during drought made farming my three acres of land impossible. However, I was able to irrigate my smaller vegetable garden. So far, I haven’t needed to buy coriander at market, and instead I’m able to sell my extra coriander on my farm to bring in money each day.”

Following her success, Ann wants to expand her garden next season and plant another vegetable variety. This will not only supplement her meals and provide additional income, but it will provide others in her community with access to that vegetable. Ann is bolstering her livelihood, strengthening her family, and contributing to a strong community, all with one garden!

If you can’t grow out, grow up!

SSNK works with farmers in several regions and has lately specialized a program to support farmers with a passion for agriculture, but with limited access to land. The program’s motto is: if you can’t grow out, grow up! SSNK now offers training in vertical bag gardens, which have a relatively small footprint, but offer enough surface area for a one- to two-vegetable kitchen garden.

Farmers come to SSNK’s demonstration garden to learn how to create a bag garden, and then head home to set up their own. Lucy is one farmer who has attended the training, and you can see her bag garden in the attached photo. So far, she’s growing enough kale and spinach for herself and her family.

SSNK actively innovates, borrows, and adapts ideas to the region where they work and the famers they work alongside. They’re one example of a local organization taking the lead on putting power back in the hands of local farmers and families. We’re proud to work with them, and we hope you are, too!

Even a small gift goes a long way for SSNK, facilitating better access to food, income, and the power of choice. From our staff, and from SSNK and their farmers, thank you for your continued support of this project.

The SPI Team

Ann at her nursery with several farmers

Ann at her nursery with several farmers

Lucy weeding her vertical bag garden

Lucy weeding her vertical bag garden

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Hear It From Our Partners

  • GrowEastAfrica Women's Group

    Fate, GrowEastAfrica, Ethiopia

    Fate is a farmer who has forged a new livelihood from the resources and education she accessed through GrowEastAfrica, an SPI partner in Ethiopia. Building upon her training, she’s stepped into leadership with the Soyama Women's Association. She shares:

    "Just a few years ago, we were a community that was worried about what we would eat tomorrow and what the future looks like. Today, not only are we growing our own food, but we’re making plans for the future of our people and our community. We are creating markets for ourselves, we're inspiring and empowering each other, and we're saving money and contributing to our own development. Because of the support from Seed Programs International and Yohannes, we now have access to water where there was none. We’re building on what we’ve already accomplished to include neighboring villages and communities. Hope has come back to us, and we hope to grow our project so everyone — us, our communities, our villages and our country — can become fully self-reliant. We have reached this place because of the support of many people that we will never meet. It is all thanks you to you. Thank you for choosing to invest in our community and in our well-being."

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Seed Programs International (SPI)

Seed Programs InternationalSeed Programs International (SPI) is a non-profit, tax exempt, non-governmental humanitarian organization.

We work thorough other humanitarian organizations, church groups, service clubs and individual donors, to provide quality seed to impoverished communities in developing countries enabling them to grow some of their own food. In addition to seed, SPI provides critical seed expertise and experience operating seed based self help programs.”

SPI is operated by individuals with over 50 years seed industry experience plus over 20 years experience in vegetable research and production. We also have 15 years experience operating programs that have successfully shipped seed to over 70 countries on five continents. SPI has shipped enough seed to plant over 1,000,000 vegetable gardens, providing more than 20 kinds of vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals often missing in people’s diets.