Since 2011, ECHO Asia has developed and facilitated seed exchange events during meetings with local partners. Through conversations with farmers and NGO staff, we have gained better insight about locally-important plant varieties, seed saving practices, attitudes towards saving seeds, and sustainable farming. The most exciting part of these events is hearing success stories! At our first agriculture workshop in Myanmar during November 2012, we were excited when one organization from southern Shan State brought over 75 cuttings of chaya to share with delegates, after having successfully introduced it as a food and forage plant on their small farm resource centre. All of their stock came from a single cutting received only one year earlier during ECHO Asia’s biennial Tropical Agriculture conference in Chiang Mai!
In this article, we share our method for implementing seed exchanges that are carried out in the local language and attended by local farmers and development workers. The materials required for a seed exchange are basic, but the actual process of exchanging and capturing information requires prior preparation and an adjustment based on the culture and realities in the particular country.