Our Six-Step Approach

Seed Programs International

Multi seed packsSPI has a time-tested method to securing good quality seed and ensuring it gets to the people who need it most. Our partners understand that after all of the effort it takes them to disperse seed to the people who need it in politically and geographically challenging conditions, the seed better be good. After all the work it takes those who are already-weakened to prepare ground and grow crops, bad seed can hurt more than it helps.

SPI uses a unique six-step approach to make sure that the seed we distribute is good seed.

Step 1: Seed Acquisition

The SPI process begins with the acquisition of donated seed. SPI’s board of directors and staff leverage their strong relationships in the seed industry to secure donated seed that would otherwise be destroyed. Some of the world’s leading seed companies donate this seed with an understanding it will be used for humanitarian purposes. SPI facilitates an efficient business model built on reclamation and corporate investment.

Step 2: Seed Selection

Determining what seed is suitable to plant in destination countries is key to ensuring successful outcomes for smallholder farmers. SPI’s seed experts evaluate the destination site’s climate and terrain and recommend seed that will yield a wide variety of crops. Horticulturalist Dave Bender, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of horticulture research experience to serve the needs of our partners.

Step 3: Testing

SPI tests its seed to ensure that it will grow and produce in the destination countries. SPI works with privately owned and accredited seed laboratories that test for germination rate and vitality. Seed that is tested and determined to be too marginal in quality for international distribution is given out in other ways or discarded. SPI ensures that a majority of seed it receives from business partners finds its way to a useful purpose.

Step 4: Packaging

SPI packages seeds in individual garden packets printed in multiple languages. Instructions are printed on the back of each package on how to plant each type of seed, the amount of time it takes for the seeds to germinate, and the amount of time it takes for the plants to mature. We have printed packets in Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Haitian, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Kiswahili – but we can print in any language if requested. Small packaging allows end users to transport seed easily. Other education materials included in shipments.

Step 5: Shipping

A critically important function SPI serves for its humanitarian partners is that of packaging and shipping the seed. SPI handles the packaging of the boxes, testing documentation, and import documentation. The most desirable way for SPI to get seed to the end user is by air, but shipping by boat or by personal courier can be more cost effective. Quality travel conditions are of utmost importance. SPI strives to provide the most cost effective method of shipping that will preserve the quality of the seed.

Step 6: Distribution and Oversight

SPI delivers seed to humanitarian organizations worldwide where it is distributed by its humanitarian partner organizations to people in need. Family, school and community gardens are planted and are thriving. Seed usually needs to be delivered each year in order to keep these small farming efforts thriving and producing vegetables. SPI provides ongoing support to organizations and farmers around the world. When partners aim to develop local self-sufficiency via seed saving or identifying local/regional sources of quality seeds, we can help.


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Why are People Hungry?

Why are People Hungry?

Poverty and unjust distribution of resources are the basic causes of hunger.

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Why Vegetable Seeds?

Why Vegetable Seeds?

Vegetable growing is a good source of both nutrition and income.

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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.