Local seed systems involve the locally led processes of seed selection and varietal development, conservation, and exchange. Vibrant seed systems play a critical role in alleviating poverty and food insecurity in rural communities by improving the productivity and bio-diversity of small-scale farming.Local seed sources are particularly important in areas of extreme poverty in the Andes where farmers live far from commercial markets, public research, and support services. For communities in isolated areas, the loss of seed can mean food scarcity and periods of starvation. In the central highlands of Ecuador, local seed systems have become dysfunctional and the vast majority of farmers lack access to the crop varieties they need to ensure their families’ food security.The project will focus on improving and enabling the process of seed saving and exchange by local communities in Ecuador’s central highlands. It will engage a cohort of highly dynamic community-based organizations to conduct applied research on their existing seed systems. They will be responsible for analyzing the factors that prevent the effective functioning of these systems, as well as exploring strategic interventions to help overcome them. The project team’s role is primarily supportive, assisting with germplasm access and technical knowledge. This approach is expected to increase the knowledge and abilities of communities to effectively manage their own local seed systems, as well as build functional networks and support systems for the dissemination of seeds and information.
The goal of this project is to empower local communities in Ecuador’s central highlands to create and sustain functional seed systems that will help them to combat food insecurity.