Farmer-Managed Seed Systems

Lead Organization:

Michigan State University

Partner Organizations:

Seed System Unit of MOA, NGOs including current partner of Self Help Africa, (In progress) ECHO from Tanzania, Farmers World merchants, and churches/mosques from within each EPA

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa






Smallholder farmers value quality seed of their preferred “orphan seeds” for their tradition, flavor, nutritional value, and ability to grow well in their environment but lack the means to access the seed because it is not commercially available. Moreover, the farmers are unskilled at producing and properly storing the seed.

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to provide a sound means for farmers to produce their preferred seed types that are not now easily available.

Specifically, the project seeks to:

  1. Work with farmer research teams to further evaluate seed types.
  2. Help them to recognize physiological problems with crops and how to address them to maintain seed quality.
  3. Host discussion meetings over period of grant (at least one per year) with MOA, seed regulators, and lead farmers from targeted areas to discuss 2022 Seed Bill.
  4. Work with MOA seed services to identify approaches that allow smallholder farmers to sell seed locally and how QDS can work for smallholder farmers.
  5. Support graduate students to engage in this research and relate it to agronomic and evaluation data.

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • Farmers and extension personnel trained in seed testing for quality, viability, and vigor using locally available resources with training manual for guidance
  • Feasible storage approaches to preserve seed quality under farmers’ conditions identified
  • Organizational platform to assure integrated seed system (market focus) developed
  • Seed storage banks within communities codeveloped of germplasm collections for farmer-preferred varieties of Bambara nut and finger millet
  • Increased smallholder farmer knowledge and practices on production, storage, and distribution of quality and preferred seed under integrated seed system (ISS)
  • Jointly explored with the Seed Services Unit opportunities to afford farmers to produce quality-declared seed of NUS crops
  • Training manual (likely two booklets) for MOA extension workers on seed production, storage, and market development developed with extension portion of team and farmer review
  • Farmers trained in seed marketing and distribution (agribusiness management) and linked to better markets through good packaging and promotion of seed produced in conjunction with MOA QDS Seed Act
  • Markets developed with farmers and MOA blessing for quality seed produced under farmer-managed system identified
  • Model for mainstreaming AEI and FRN principles in ISS developed (e.g., co-creation, circular, and local economy)
  • Two postgraduates trained at MSc. level in relevant disciplines for seed systems (agronomy, plant breeding, seed science, agribusiness/extension); farmer research teams working together in each EPA


  • Extension workers supporting smallholder farmers to produce seeds of choice and engage in local seed production and sales
  • MOA appreciating efforts by SHF and values to produce local seed
  • MOA willing to work with SHF to engage in QDS
  • MOA extension workers including training with community farmers on producing quality UUS for local use and sales
  • SHFs realizing opportunities and values to multiply quality UUS
  • Nutritional food options more available in these and nearby communities
  • SHFs’ incomes supplemented by sales of UUS