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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: