African indigenous vegetable seed systems in Western Kenya
This study in the Economic Botany Journal collected seed samples and survey data from 127 farmers in western Kenya on their African indigenous vegetable (AIV) seed production practices, uses of AIV seed, and motivations for growing seed. AIV production systems are often constrained by the availability of high-quality seed. Concerted efforts to improve the informal seed sector could increase farmers’ access to seed, but these efforts are hampered by a lack of knowledge around the quality of farmer-produced seed and seed growers’ motivations for producing seed. Germination tests showed that seed quality varied significantly between species. Seed access was still a constraint, even though the majority of seeds used by farmers are self-produced. Income from selling AIV seed differed significantly depending on gender, with men earning more than twice as much as women. This study demonstrates that the constraints farmers face in accessing high-quality AIV seed can vary significantly between species and over short distances. Female seed producers are not necessarily empowered to earn equal income as men, despite AIVs traditionally being considered a women’s crop. This study speaks to the importance of using localized information to develop programs for improving informal seed systems and continuing to employ gender-sensitive and transformative activities.