Food security means seed security
This article by Rural 21 discusses how farmers get seed in different countries. Practices range from the Nepalese self-supplier to sophisticated propagation systems in the industrialized nations. In the South, between 60 and 100 per cent of farmers still use their own seed. For this purpose, they simply keep part of the harvest for the next season’s sowing. Farmers in the South often cultivate different varieties that are also harvested at the same time. In the Nepalese region of Lamjung, anyone asking others for seed is regarded as a bad farmer. Therefore, seed is hardly ever swapped, even among neighbors, whereas in Mali, the exchange of seed has a high social status. The level of development that a seed producing system has reached also depends on the crop involved. Although varieties are swapped with neighbors and friends in Mali, they are hardly registered and are not described anywhere, so that there only very little improvement is achieved in quality. Food security is expressed among subsistence farmers by more than the mere level of yield. It includes the traditional integration of the plant in the families’ entire living and farming. The price of seed also plays a crucial role for farmers, but additionally the sweetness of the stalk, color of the grain and its suitability for threshing are import factors. Improving seed production offers new income options for farmers, who can diversity their earnings with seed propagation.