Seed Programs International

Woman in Bean fields, Courtesy FIPAH.

Woman in Bean fields, Courtesy FIPAH.

Sometimes we rely on the obvious to know a program is working: bountiful harvests, smiling families, heart-warming quotes. But other times, data helps.

Our field partner in Honduras, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), has been doing great work to actually measure how lives change. They organize rural farmers into small groups and train them to lead the way in developing, growing, and using crops that are selected specifically for their climate, culture, and environment. FIPAH is aiming to scale to 173 farmer groups, representing 191 communities in 5 departments of Western and Central Honduras, by 2020. They are already more than halfway there!

Project leaders Sally and Marvin state, "In the early days of the project, farmer-led research was new to all members. This encouraged shared learning between men and women. Women took seed selection skills out of the kitchen and into public space."  Recently FIPAH has shared some research information, particularly on the question of how women are impacted. Here are some findings:

  1. Female farmers will select different ideal traits, when breeding a new variety, than male farmers.
  2. Participating in a farmer group led to not only increased crop yields, but also better household nutrition and more savings.
  3. After participating in a FIPAH farmer group, women were more likely to
  • participate in other organizations
  • occupy important positions in the community
  • take on salaried work
  • administer family finances
  • visit friends and neighbors 
  • work with her spouse in the fields
  • make agricultural decisions for the household, such as what to grow, where. 

FIPAH staff conclude: "Learning to do research gave poor women and men self-confidence. Self-confidence allowed women to use their liberty effectively and empowered them to make important household decisions."


Women During Harvest

Women During Harvest

Surviving Ebola means more than only surviving the disease. An estimated 8,000 children have lost one or both parents to Ebola in Liberia alone. Ebola widows and orphans face isolation and stigmatization, all while struggling with the psychological trauma of losing countless family members, friends, and neighbors in a short period. Women and girls are left vulnerable after losing their parents or partners to Ebola, and are especially susceptible to exploitation and violence. Psychosocial support and intervention are integral for the recovery and continued survival of Ebola widows and orphans.

Photo 5 Large

Communities often know what they need. The people actually on the ground growing vegetables for themselves and their communities know what projects should do and whether the project is working.

But to help us even better understand whether our projects are meeting a community’s needs, we may engage a bilingual local liaison to share program ideas, struggles, and results back to us.  

Teaching weaving of worm composting baskets.

Teaching weaving of worm composting baskets.

"Worms for Widows" is underway in Chajul, Guatemala!

A key element of the project is the sharing of traditional Ixil Mayan basketry and repurposing the baskets to hold worms that can produce fertile soil using local resources. This is traditionally a male craft, so these are brave women who are learning baskets.  You can see the male instructor in the first colorful photo attached. He taught them how to collect and treat the vines gathered on the mountain, and prepare them for weaving. Initial project funds from GlobalGiving were used to pay the instructor and buy some materials needed for the weaving process.

The second attached photo shows a cooking class organized by our Guatemalan partner organization, ASO-Ixil. The women shown here are some of the gardening beneficiaries who will receive seeds, worms, and gardening support. Our partners recognize that vegetables are not always seen as an important part of the diet except during special holiday occasions and dishes. Growers may be more likely to sell garden harvests than eat them. This is OK too, as the money is very much needed. But with a little training, women can learn to incorporate vegetables into typical dishes. 

The video link to this report shows women in Chajul making a dish using local ground cornmeal, a dietary staple, wrapped up in swiss chard grown in their gardens. We're so impressed with this part of the work!

The third photo shows results from the gardens. The man holding the cauliflower here is the son of one of the widows participating in the program, who came to help with his machete and strong back. What an amazing harvest! Cauliflower is a top-five vegetable in Vitamin C content and also will fetch a great price in the local market.

Thanks again for helping us fund this microproject, Worms for Widows, we are honored to have your support. 

cooking class

cooking class

cauliflower harvest

Cauliflower harvest


Contact Us

Seed Programs International

PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815


Seed Programs Canada (Affiliate)

Registered Charity No. 839858107RR0001
Lombardy, ON

Get Connected

Facebook  Twitter  Email

Join Our Newsletter

Signup with your email address below to receive our quarterly e-newsletter.


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.