Strengthening Support for Smallholder Farmer-led Seed systems

‘Strengthening Support for Small Farmer-led Seed Systems: Knowledge Exchange, Collaboration and Innovation between Formal and Informal Seed Systems’

The SKI workshop participants/Photo: Amy Dean, PROGRESS

The SKI workshop participants/Photo: Amy Dean, PROGRESS

Was the title of a two-day seminar organised by the Seed and Knowledge Initiative (SKI) that took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa on 4 and 5 September 2014.

‘SKI’ is a long-term partnership between the University of Cape Town, Biowatch South Africa and the Mupo Foundation focused on securing food security and sovereignty for small-holder farmers in the SADC region. The initiative will grow to include other organisations in the southern Africa over the next five years. .

Over forty different actors from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia and the UK were brought together at the seminar, ranging from genebank managers, government officials and researchers, through to civil society organisations and NGOs working with farmers. The meeting was supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the National Research Foundation in South Africa, and PROGRESS, a European Commission project focused on responsible research and innovation.

The overarching aim of the seminar was to explore the interface between so-called formal and farmer-led systems of seed management, knowledge, research and innovation, from local systems at grassroots level to the more formalised systems that exist in universities, research institutions and the private sector.

In particular, the seminar explored the way in which formal institutions can support local, farmer-led systems of innovation and the potential of approaches such as participatory plant breeding.

The seminar’s objectives were:

  • To develop a common understanding of principles and approaches that work;
  • To share research approaches and learnings, as well as practical experiences;
  • To explore the role of government in supporting small scale farmers’ seed and knowledge systems;
  • To chart a course towards changing the way in which research is conducted and funding allocated in order to achieve greater social impact and address the needs of marginalised farming communities.

Here is a link to the program of the seminar and we will make sure to share a report as soon as available.