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With support from USAID’s Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (Hort CRSP), Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization’s Asia Impact Center (ECHO Asia), Maejo University, Thailand, and the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) initiated efforts in 2010 to begin strengthening indigenous informal seed systems in northern Thailand and Cambodia. Their project was premised on several well-established facts:

  • Informal seed systems, such as farmer-to-farmer exchanges and farmer self-saved seed, are critical components of resource-poor farming systems in Southeast Asia.
  • A rich diversity of underutilized species function within these systems, particularly among the hilltribe communities of northern Thailand and Khmer farmers of Cambodia.
  • Current efforts to conserve, improve, and disseminate local species are inadequate, and the indigenous knowledge surrounding this local seed system is threatened, and/or eroding.
  • To optimize these informal seed systems we need to better understand their characteristics and improve local stakeholder capacity, and access to information, technology and high quality seed.