Vegetable seeds are increasingly used to advance nutrition and income goals in humanitarian response. Understanding crop choice and how seeds are
sourced and supplied can support these interventions.
1 Seed Supply: Commercial
Worldwide, commercial vegetable seed supply is narrow, with few primary producers servicing a large downstream distribution network. Seed traders frequently experience this effect. For example, a crop failure for one major pepper seed producer can cascade into a worldwide supply shortage (and price spike) for all pepper seed across multiple years. Producing vegetable seed to commercial specifications is technically challenging. Compared with cereal and legume seed, worldwide demand for vegetable seed is lower. Commercial vegetable seed production is slow to emerge in the developing world. As a result, beyond the seed saved by small-scale farmers themselves, vegetable seed is more likely (than cereal or legume seed) to originate from imported sources, either before or after its final packaging. For this reason, when local seed production, saving, and/or commerce have been
disrupted by crisis, the nearest sales outposts of vegetable seed companies with global or countrywide reach may be willing to engage with crisis relief work. Potentially, such companies could offer technical support or engage with small-scale commerce. National labs, as well as organizations like the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), ECHO, and Seed Programs International (SPI) may be able to offer crisis-appropriate seed options at
varying quantities, selections, and prices. Even in remote locations, vegetable seed may be seen in all kinds of small shops and from markets, not just agro-dealers. Restoring this type of trade, if damaged by crisis, can be one goal of crisis response, alongside efforts to foster renewed vegetable seed
production and saving by farmers.