Seed Programs International

St. Barnabas: Pulling bok choy for the market.

St. Barnabas: Pulling bok choy for the market.

Hello friends!

It’s hard to believe that three months have already passed. And what a three months! 20,000 packets of seed arrived in August just in time to reach storage in Port-au-Prince before Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean. Even though Haiti was spared a direct hit, the high winds and heavy rains were hard on farmers who had just begun to recover from Hurricane Matthew.

As our partners are regrouping, our agronomist, Stephany, has been coordinating with partners on the ground to deliver seed and learn more about who they are and the communities they work with. As of today, half of the seed — 10,000 packets — has been distributed! 2,000 packets have reached each of five partners, so we’d like to tell you a little about them.

Esther standing on her drought-cracked land.

Esther standing on her drought-cracked land.

Two Stories: Esther & Ms. Mary

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. As a single mother, Esther began farming her land to support eight children, five of whom are in school.

Ms. Mary is a farmer in the Kasambara-Gilgil region of Kenya. Working as a shop attendant, she had always dreamed of becoming a full-time farmer. Mary eventually bought a small piece of land with her earnings and left her job to pursue her dream.

Both women began farming a traditional crop — maize, also known as corn. They prepared the land, planted seeds, tended the seedlings into plants, harvested the matured maize, and then brought their crops to market. After adding everything up, Esther and Mary each discovered that the cost for growing maize was more than they could sell it for at market.

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.

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.