Seed Programs International


  • Chama: What goes around comes around.

    Naima with a member of the women

    Naima with a member of the women's group

    In September, I visited several women’s groups in northern Kenya that are supported locally by Seed Program International partners HODI and SSNK. I want to tell you about the Khairi Women’s Self Help Group in Marsabit, who is using a popular Kenyan form of self-financing called a Chama to supplement the agricultural resources SPI provides.

    Chamas are self-managed and member-invested groups of 15-25 women who meet regularly to support one another and decide which member-led business initiatives the Chama will finance. Its systems are kept simple and transparent to ensure that all women participate in decision-making and benefit from the collective investments.

    Groups are usually formed with trusted friends and family, so meetings often feel like family gatherings or a tea party with friends. Besides business planning, meetings also provide the group with opportunities to participate in educational programs with HODI and SSNK where they learn about the benefits of setting goals, planning ahead, and saving. Women at the Khairi Women’s group in Marsabit participate in a monthly business management and savings training, and also receive individual mentoring.

  • Growing Out & Growing Up in Kenya

    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.

  • Nairobi: Bringing it back home.

    Students at Valley Bridge Primary School, Nairobi

    Students at Valley Bridge Primary School, Nairobi

    Hi folks,

    First, thank you to all of our early supporters! We’re really excited about this project. Not only do school gardens grow vegetables, they keep kids in school, provide lifelong agronomic skills, and become community hubs for nutrition and training. We know this from years of work with partners who host or coordinate school gardens. Over the years, our partners in Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, and Kenya (among others) have proven how vital school gardens can be for children and communities.

    Today’s update is more personal than usual. In 2016, SPI Program Manager Naima Dido spent some time visiting several partners in her home country, Kenya. During her visit, Naima made a point to look up Valley Bridge Primary School, the school she attended as a child in Nairobi. This stop wasn’t only nostalgic — Naima spoke with the headmaster about establishing a school garden and partnering with SPI.

  • Solving the Maize to Find Vegetables



    Esther is a farmer from Makongo village and a member of the Makongo Farmers Network in south-central Kenya, where she owns ½ acre of land. She was forced to relocate from Eldoret in western Kenya due to political instability during 2007-2008. A single mother, she supports eight children, five of whom are in school.

    Following common practice, Esther believed that her only option for securing her family’s livelihood as a farmer was to grow maize. In the 2015-2016 growing season, she invested in purchasing maize seed and fertilizers. She planted the seeds, tended the plants, cared for the field and crop, and harvested her maize. She brought the crop to market, and after she added everything up, found that growing maize cost her more than she could sell it for at market. She was losing money, having already invested in the type of farming she had hoped would support her family.

  • SSNK: Seed Is the Origin of Life

    SSNK farmers at harvest.

    SSNK farmers at harvest.

    Hi folks,

    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 local community groups, providing access to agricultural training, good vegetable seed, tools, and other resources. We recently connected with Daniel who told us about some of the work he’s been doing with the village of Emkwen. 

    Emkwen Village

    Emkwen Village is a farming community located in the Loboi area of Baringo District in west central Kenya. Arid rocky terrain, acacia trees, and shrubs cover the majority of the District. The natural landscape makes this area prone to drought and food shortages.

    Farmers in this region predominantly grow maize because they can easily access maize seed from a local seed company. After harvest, farmers sell back every seed they produce to the same company. This creates a monoculture farming structure, limiting the development and transmission of farming knowledge for non-maize crops. Since farmers are not growing nutritionally-diverse crops, they need to fill this gap by purchasing nutritious food at the market. Maize farming leaves farmers with some money, but not enough to purchase the nutritionally-diverse food needed throughout the year.

Contact Us

Seed Programs International

PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815


Seed Programs Canada (Affiliate)

Registered Charity No. 839858107RR0001
Lombardy, ON

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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.