ECHOcommunity Updates

Seed banks and seed swaps - focusing worldwide on healthy local seed systems 2017-05-22

Seed availability for small-scale farmers can be unpredictable and unreliable. Commercial products are often out of reach financially or geographically and can lead to loss of biodiversity. ECHO's seed banks provide sample packets of seeds to evaluate for potential crop production in challenging places. This free service fills an important need, but is one part of a holistic, successful, and sustainable crop cycle.

ECHO promotes strengthening local seed systems though seed saving, local banking, and seed fairs - also known as seed swaps. Seed swaps have proven to be highly successful events allowing development workers, farmers and gardeners to identify the wealth of local crop varieties and exchange valued plant materials for expanded propagation and production.

A group of people participate in a seed swap

Participants at a seed swap at the ECHO Global Farm 

During a recent seed swap exercise held on the ECHO Florida campus, development workers and gardeners exchanged not only seeds but also plans for future seed fairs around the world. Billy Oram hopes to facilitate a similar event at an upcoming agricultural development conference in Haiti. Debra Kiliru, engaged involved in agricultural development work in Ghana, would like to use seed sharing to inspire young people to continue to engage in agriculture, particularly to learn seed stories and other agricultural wisdom from their elders. Diana Fedorenko, based in Mozambique, is considering the possibility of hosting seed fairs in cooperation with the local Anglican church to supplement the church’s agricultural programming.

As healthy local seed systems continue to play an important role related to sustainable smallholder agriculture and food security, we expect the role and impact of seed swaps to grow among the ECHO network.

Resources available on ECHOcommunity:

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Upcoming events

Tropical Agricultural Development I: The Basics
Mon, 24 July 2017 » Fri, 28 July 2017

ECHO Campus, United States

Those interested in preparing for short/long-term involvement in agricultural development internationally  are encouraged to participate in this one-week course held two times a year. Course participants will gain an introduction to aspects of poverty and community development and an orientation to ECHO. They will also receive instruction on proven agricultural principles/practices and practical techniques, systems and technologies to meet agricultural and nutritional needs of small-scale, im...

Introduction to Community Development
Mon, 14 August 2017 » Fri, 18 August 2017

ECHO Campus, United States

As a development worker or missionary, where do you start? How might you ensure that development efforts will be relevant, realistic, and community-owned? This five-day course will cover the basics of effective community development. Using proven participatory methods, experienced community development workers will introduce attendees to hands-on tools that can better enable change agents and partner communities to survey local assets and needs. Utilizing feedback, participants will practice ...

6th Biennial ECHO Asia Agriculture & Community Development Conference
Tue, 3 October 2017 » Fri, 6 October 2017

Holiday Garden Hotel & Resort (, THAILAND

The 6th Biennial ECHO Asia Agriculture and Community Development Conference will take place on October 3-6, 2017, in Chiang Mai, Thailand! Our conference theme "Improving Lives" expresses our desire to partner with you as we train, equip, and grow our network to impact the lives and livelihoods of farmers and their families across Asia. Speakers will share practical solutions to agricultural challenges, personal experiences, and strategies for improving the lives of millions who daily face...

ECHO International Agriculture Conference 2017
Tue, 14 November 2017 » Thu, 16 November 2017

Crowne Plaza Hotel , United States

This year marks the 24th Anniversary of the ECHO International Agriculture Conference held in Fort Myers, FL!  We hope that you will make plans to join us for this year's conference.  The event brings together some of the world’s most influential voices dedicated to eradicating hunger and improving lives. Speakers will share practical solutions to agricultural challenges, personal experiences and strategies for improving the lives of millions who daily face the threat of starvation. The ev...

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