Seed Programs International

droughtThe Horn of Africa has always included arid regions that are drought-prone. Droughts come and go with El Niño weather patterns; local people adapt and develop centuries-old strategies to persist through crisis. East Africans are survivors. But things are different now. The drought experienced in 2016-2017 is unprecedented -- many have died, 800,000 children under 5 are severely undernourished, and the lives of 20 million people are threatened. The other difference now is our media environment. Those of us old enough to remember the 1984-1985 drought will recall it was the year’s biggest news story, We are the World was a #1 pop hit, and donations were generous. Today, news cycles are so short and information flow so overwhelming that only 15% of Americans are even aware that this famine event exists. We encourage you to read the links shared here and tell others via social media or via good old-fashioned conversation.

A community garden organized by GrowEastAfrica.

If you’re moved to help, consider supporting SPI. We work to provide drought-smart gardens that support community-led drought recovery in Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and Somalia.

You can read about some of our work with diasporan-led SPI partner GrowEastAfrica, who focuses on the Burji District of Southern Ethiopia.

Read about GrowEastAfrica’s work in the Burji District of Southern Ethiopia →


Our partner Pop Atz’iaq has taken the lead on the processes of mobilizing our women’s groups, field work, documentation, and addressing the many challenges faced by women in San Cristobal and the near by villages, and our original women’s group in Chajul.

Pop Atz’iaq's strength lies in their ability to help women recognize their skills, experience, and capacities. SPI’s partnership with Pop Atz’iaq makes it possible for participating women to receive training and access to resources for gardening, handicraft production, and business training for women who have the desire to start or improve their businesses. Business training includes human development and women’s empowerment themes, business management, marketing, finances, accounting, sales, customer service and social responsibility to their culture and communities.

Francis Transplanting Cabbage

Francis Transplanting Cabbage

Hello, project supporters!

We’d like to share some news about the future of this project, but first we’d like to introduce you to Francis, our on-the-ground coordinator for the SPI Liberia Partnership Network. We initially contracted with Francis earlier this year to help with data collection. Since then, he’s established himself as an essential coordinator for SPI and our partners in Liberia. Not only has Francis taken the lead in coordinating with SPI, he’s started his own CBO whose mission focuses on agriculture and education. Francis writes:

“I am a student of agriculture with a strong passion to engage youth and women in agribusiness that improves nutrition and strengthens livelihoods through garden activity in my community. I also have keen interest in the development and well-being of children. From this background, I thought it wise to formulate a Community Based Organization (CBO) named Network Innovation for Children's Endeavor (NICE) Liberia, which will subsequently be transformed into a Non Governmental Organization that provides humanitarian services across Liberia. Mainly, it will focus on agriculture to empower women and youth, and education for children that promotes their holistic development.

Through my network with Naima from SPI, I received some agriculture donations to enable my garden work with fellow community dwellers. With this support from SPI, I mobilized a group of ten youth — three women and seven men who are college, junior and senior high school students — to cultivate vegetables. Vegetable sales will provide a means of financial empowerment to enable each person to purchase school supplies for the next academic year.”

We’re currently in discussion with Francis about the future of NICE and what role SPI might have in supporting the organization. We’ll tell you more as this partnership develops!

Rounding the Corner

After working alongside our partners for more than a year, it’s time to round a corner. Working with Francis had made it clear that our partners’ focus has shifted from rebuilding to thriving. Like Francis, many of our partners have expanded their original capacity to include providing support to surrounding communities in addition to their own.

We’ve been asking partners to assess how SPI might best support their communities’ development, or if the support is even needed at all. We’re working with Francis and our partners to answer that question, and once that direction is determined, we’ll update this project to reflect the new direction that our partners have asked us to follow.

Thank you for your continued support throughout this project. We’re really happy with the direction that this project has taken and hope you’ll continue to support these communities in their new endeavors!

Francis with an SPI Partner

Francis with an SPI Partner

Women with NICE Liberia

Women with NICE Liberia

Francis and Men with NICE Liberia

Francis and Men with NICE Liberia

Women Working in the School Garden

Women Working in the School Garden

A typical woman in Liberia has a lot of work on her plate in addition to the work of managing her household. And to be clear, this is work, often unpaid and unacknowledged — gathering firewood, fetching water, cooking, hand washing clothes, and taking care of family members. Household work can be a huge burden that limits a woman’s ability to take on paid employment or broaden her skills through training and education.

In Liberia, much like many other developing countries around the world, large gender gaps impair women's ability to provide for themselves and their families. Even though the number of hungry people has declined worldwide in the last decade, it remains unacceptably high in places like Liberia. REAP is working hard to change the narrative for Bentol City.

“Women frequently achieve lower productivity than male farmers because they do not have access to the same resources. From the beginning, our goal has been to identify locally available interventions that will improve and increase the productivity of all our program participants.” — REAP founder Christine Norman

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.