Seed Programs International

Tree Angels for Haiti with students

Tree Angels for Haiti with students

In our last report, we told you that we were in the planning phase for the SPI Haiti Partnership Network stakeholder meeting. Well, it’s been three months and we’ve had to adapt our approach to respond to the reality of the situation on the ground.

One partner writes, “The environment in many rural areas was completely destroyed - all trees and plants destroyed. They are slowly growing back and being replanted, but in the meantime there is much less shade, more scarce environment, a huge lack of food security for rural communities that live off of the land, and ridiculous inflation...of the cost of living in general.”

Another partner writes, “The community of Leogane is mainly rural and depends greatly on locally grown produce and fruits. Already hit very hard by the 2010 earthquake, and hit annually by a multitude of floods and mudslides, [those living in] Leogane...haven’t been able to get back on their feet ever since."

Farmers working with GrowEastAfrica

Farmers working with GrowEastAfrica

When we enter into a partnership, our partner’s goals become our goals. They know best what is needed for their success. We rely on their expertise to facilitate a relationship between us and their communities, and to ensure that the decision-making for our programs is directed from within those communities. GrowEastAfrica (a project of Diaspora Burji Community Organization), is an Ethiopian diaspora-led group based in the US who has been working to provide access to resources and training that strengthen the resilience of families in Southern Ethiopia. We’ve been working with them since early 2016.

Yohannes, one of GrowEastAfrica’s founders, recently wrote us about an initiative they began last year as part of our partnership:

“Time flies, it was just last year at this time...that we initiated a livelihood improvement project for the neediest rural families in the Burji District of Southern Ethiopia. [In 2016] we were able to distribute three goats per family for 15 of the neediest families and started a nutritional vegetable garden for 300 families. These initiatives have lifted these families from the darkest pit of poverty and shone a light on a path to hope. All families that received two female and one adult male goats last year have five goats now. Families that participated in the vegetable garden had an abundant harvest and they were able to sell the excess crops and put the money back into the project.”

Dona Bertulia in her heurto.
Dona Bertulia in her heurto.

Our best hope for any project is that we will work ourselves out of a job. When farmers acquire the skills they need to grow food, save seeds, and foster mutually beneficial relationships with neighboring communities, they lay a foundation for self-sufficiency that will last for generations to come.

So, we are happy to say that this is our final report for Seeds to Grow 100 Tons of Needed Food in Honduras. Together with our primary partner, FIPAH, we have supported five Honduran communities in coming together to develop and adopt adaptable solutions. Thanks to the farmer schools and research teams (CIALs), farmers are empowered to respond to a changing environment and local economy. By including all members of the community, including women and youth, they have ensured that a broad pool of farmers have the knowledge needed for long-term resilience. continue the best practices developed by FIPAH’s research teams (CIALs).

"Before, women didn't have any say in agriculture. Now they're active in many projects," said Hilda, CIAL's Women in Action coordinator and treasurer. "Now we have a say in what goes on in our farming communities. The men received us well. Women are good farmers because we are motivated and hard-working and organized. We are leaders."

While we initially shipped seeds to Honduras, it later made more sense to purchase seeds locally to better adapt seed-saving techniques for each region. Sally from FIPAH writes, “The project flows from a successful seed field school piloted in Jesus de Otoro in 2015 supported by SPI. As per the original planning, each of the five regions where FIPAH operates is focused on producing specific seed varieties through field school training.” Below, you can see the seeds that each region chose to refine along with the breakdown of farmers who are now trained in seed production.

Intibucá Sur: Tomato, Chile, Green Bean, Cucumber, Pepino
12 Farmers: 5 Women and 7 Men

Lempira Sur: Broccoli, Cauliflower Onion
11 Farmers: 5 Women and 6 Men

Otoro: Soybean, Coriander, Radish
10 Farmers: 9 Women and 1 Man

Yorito: Chile, Tomato
10 Farmers: 9 Women and 1 Man

Vallecillo: Onion, Cabbage
13 Farmers: 2 Women and 11 Men

The CIALs currently have 56 participants engaged in seed production enterprises — 30 women and 26 men from 21 communities over five regions. Our most recent field report focuses on the Jesus de Otoro region.

Dona Bertulia

Dona Bertulia is from the community of Las Pilas in the municipality of Sulaco. Her small huerto (orchard) is right beside her house on the road that runs through the centre of Las Pilas. Neighbors can peer over her fence to see what she is growing. She has a wide range of vegetables and herbs, which she waters with simple drip irrigation.

As a long time seed saver, she was selected by FIPAH for seed saving training in tomato and chile. Given the difficulties that farmers face working with these two species, she was eager to learn new information about plant diseases, how to select plants that could be used to save seed, and some farming “best practices” for these particular plants.

During the training, Dona Bertulia learned how to save seed that could be sold, an idea that was new to her. There are a lot of women in Las Pilas interested in growing vegetables, but they don’t have access to good seed. She is now planning on selling tomato and chile seed to neighbours in addition to the vegetable harvest she usually offers. The seed will be sold in small paper packets that have been produced at FIPAH’s Yorito office. Producing seed not only opens the door for women to earn an income, but importantly, it can be done from home. Women, most with children and older relatives to care for, can engage in saving seed without leaving their homes. And the neighbors will benefit from having access to seed which they can use in their own huertos to produce healthy food to nourish their families.

In Closing

With your help, we recently supported the acquisition of over 62,000 packets of seed. FIPAH reports that our partnership has benefited 100 communities in five regions where 829 families and 270 schoolchildren from grades 4 - 6. Six school gardens have been established where students share the responsibility of managing the garden with their parents. These gardens contribute healthy vegetables to the school’s lunch menu and will also provide plants that will be saved for seed. This is just one fantastic example of how the community has come together to create spaces for multi-generational collaboration.

Seed production is the final stage of our involvement with this program. Having an exit strategy and supporting work toward that end is a core component of our model. Now that a strong, community-led network is in place for these Honduran farmers, our role in supporting this project has concluded.

We are so grateful for your generous support of this project! We hope you will consider supporting one of our other projects and reading more about our work at www.seedprograms.org.

Thank you!

Dona Bertulia showing her crop.

Dona Bertulia showing her crop.

Farmers preparing organic fertilizer in Yorito.

Farmers preparing organic fertilizer in Yorito.

Farmers selecting fruit and vegetable plants.

Farmers selecting fruit and vegetable plants.

Farmers of Intibuca Sur, identifying diseases.

Farmers of Intibuca Sur, identifying diseases.

Men with gardening tools

Improving nutrition in a sustainable way requires having good seeds, access to training and information, and appropriate tools. Many people have the energy, ambition and are ready for the work but they do not have the resources to get started. Having access to right garden tools and supplies makes a community’s goal of nutrition improvement easily achievable, especially for SPI’s seed recipients.

Appropriate tools and equipment contribute to the broad objective of increasing the viability of the small farms and gardens supported by our partner organizations. Most smaller groups and individual seed recipients in Liberia use traditional technologies that are inefficient. Although power tools and more modern tools can be found in Liberia, most recipients and our partner organizations do not have the resources to cover the cost of these types of equipment. It is, therefore, our goal to help fill this gap with good quality tools and equipment that are affordable and suited to the scale of operations of the small farmers and gardeners.

in May 2017 11 tools banks with little or no tools at all were fully stocked with tools for SPI seed recipients across five counties in Liberia. With their new tool banks, our Liberia partners are preparing themselves to train seed recipients how to operate their new tool banks in an inclusive and efficient manner, and create a self-supporting system of sharing tools and other resources.

SPI provided the tools with support from you and from GlobalGiving and paid the cost of transport to our distribution point, which was the office of one of our partners in Liberia.

The tools funded by SPI are selected specifically with the environment and local culture in mind. These tools are:

a) adapted to allow efficient and speedy work with the minimum of fatigue

b) of simple design, so that they can be made locally;

c) light in weight, for easy transportation

d) ready for immediate use without loss of time for preparatory adjustments;

f) made of easily available materials.

Across Liberia, it’s mostly small kitchen gardens and small-scale farmers who put food on a villager’s table. It is because of the hard work of these gardeners and farmers that we have accomplished our goals. We support sustainable options for our partners, instead of pushing them into the endless cycle of buying bad seeds and chemical fertilizers and pesticides that only damage their most precious resource, their land.

When working with our in-country partners, we look at a variety of resource areas, including access to seeds,  tools, and training to determine the gaps and how to invest SPI resources to sustainably contribute to the rebuilding of communities who have survived disease and war many times over.

We are proud of our Liberia partners who are working tirelessly to make a difference in the communities they serve. Despite a variety of difficulties, they have been able to obtain and share valuable horticultural and life skills that have become life-saving for many who rely on them.

Thank you for supporting our work, and thank you to GlobalGiving for your partnership!

Unloading truck


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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.