ECHO supplies small seed packets for trial. It is important to understand that the plants must be treated at first as experimental before making recommendations to members of your community. Many development workers have introduced and promoted ‘miracle technologies’ and ‘wonder plants’ before giving them adequate trial and experimentation on-site. Not even studies in the same country can guarantee acceptance or success. Hasty introductions of new ideas or plants are likely to encounter serious problems. Farmers may have planted their fields with the new varieties or invested their savings in the new tool when the problems surface; perhaps a pest or disease strikes, or the equipment is faulty or unsuitable. In the end, farming families will suffer, and the development worker will understandably have a very difficult time promoting any further ideas or innovations. People may lose confidence or trust, with serious consequences for your work or ministry.
We look upon those who request seed as collaborators with us in field trials. This does not mean that you must do elaborate experimentation, but we do expect you to take time to write to us after the food has been harvested, letting us know your general impressions on your seeds’ suitability to the region and the culture. A seed trial report form is available online- please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We enter your results in our database and use this information to make more refined recommendations to others and to share with interested scientists. These reports are very important to us, to be aware of germination or weediness problems, as well as to learn of successful introductions and acceptance of the plant in the community. We are always glad to receive the seed trial reports, but we also have special interest in longer-term results of plant introductions and the effects of ECHO’s work. If you receive seed from ECHO and the plants are adopted in the fields and gardens in your area, please let us know.