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By: Faith Juma
Published: 2022-03-02

Over the last two years, more than 2,245 packets of seeds (a combination of difficult to find species, underutilized crops varieties and improved species) have been distributed and so too have the seed saving techniques and practices being passed on. 

It is typically, through seed bank training that encouraged seed swapping, Seed showcasing events that ECHO East Africa seed bank participated such as Arusha Conservation Agriculture Forum (ACAF), Twende and Aga khan farmers day, Indigenous seeds and food fair, other ECHO trainings, Seed bank regular visits/tours and many others.

What’s happening in ECHO East Africa seed bank?

There have been an increased demands in seeds a well as seed saving training during Covid 19 compared to other times. There was hope in knowing that we were able to provide nutritious vegetable seeds and other improved varieties crops to many people than before and provide seed saving technologies especially at the time when they desperately needed them. 

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A group of partners attended seed savings and banking training at ECHO Grow out sections

Seed Bank Trainings

With a grateful heart, all thanks to ECHO Headquarters Florida for supporting seed saving and banking training to partner organizations with the aim of establishing community seed bank in their countries/regions and become seed bank managers. It was difficult for participants outside the country to attend due to COVID restrictions that were imposed to fight against the pandemic. This didn’t stop ECHO East Africa from hosting the training. An extensive five days training for partner organizations from SWISSAID, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), RECODA, and Karatu farmers was hosted at ECHO East Africa Impact center. It was a successful timely training especially that farmers need to be more seed secure when crisis occur. One of the achievements is that it had initiated seed exchange/seed swap among Karatu farmers and the partner organization that attended the training and an ongoing partnership.

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ECHO seed showcasing table at the local seeds fair held in Karatu

Seed Showcasing Events

ECHO East Africa seed bank has participated in several events that involved showcasing of seeds. This has been a great opportunity to share several free packets of green manure/cover crop seeds and seed saving technologies with farmers, gardeners,agricultural experts, practitioners and stakeholders.

One among the commonly known events, is the Arusha Conservation Agriculture Forum, (ACAF) which includes different agricultural experts, practitioners, and stakeholders. The event takes place every three months. 

ECHO seed bank has been playing part in these events by sharing the seed saving technology that ECHO practice and distributing bulks and packets of green manure/cover crop seeds and other underutilized crops. ECHO’s showcasing table in such events, has been noted to attracted over hundreds of people because of the unique free seeds packets that grows well in difficult conditions but more so the technologies shared are easily adapted as the participants said:

There was hope in knowing that we were able to provide nutritious vegetables seeds, other improved varieties and seed saving technologies to many people than before especially when they were desperately needed

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A group of physically challenged people who visited ECHO seed bank to learn about seed saving and banking 

Alongside seed showcasing events participated, ECHO Seed bank co-organized a local seed fair events in November last year, along with Kilimo Endelevu, TOAM, TABIO, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), AVRDC and other relevant partners. The main aim was to sensitize threats and their implications on multiplying farmers managed seeds. 

Through such events, we have succeeded in echoing ECHO seed saving practices and underutilized crops to multitudes of small-scale farmers and gardeners, which we believe has impacted lives of many.

In one of the seed show casing events, I met a farmer who had previously received free packets of green manure/cover crops for trial from ECHO’s seed showcasing table and is now enjoying the land being restored and tons of seeds multiplied from packets she had received.
In her on words she said,

I received three free packets and bought a kilogram of Canavalia seeds, I tried them on a very dry land near my house. The soil was completely covered and protected. The land that was once a dried and broken is restored. After a while I harvested seeds and tried them to a much bigger land, I now have tons of Canavalia seeds and reaping the benefit of a restored land

Hosting Visitors and Tours

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A group of women trained on seed savings and banking technology during one of their tours at ECHO seed bank

The pandemic has caused a serious threat to humanity, not only because of the increasing death but also because of the restrictions imposed which hinder the fight against food security initiatives. This has led to an increase in number of visitors especially women being brought by several partner organization to learn on seed saving technologies.

Several groups of women, girls, students, and development workers have been visiting ECHO East Africa Seed bank and receiving seeds and information on how to produce and save their own seeds especially now that seed security has become a challenge amid COVID 19.

Hosting these groups of people at different times has contributed a greater number of seeds being distributed and seed saving technologies spread widely.

With all these engagements that ECHO seed bank has done over the years. It has enabled us to reach as many small-scale farmers and gardeners as it has been our main goal. Moreover, it has strengthened partnership among partner organizations who bring in farmers to our seed bank. Even in the midst of the pandemic, ECHO seed bank has proven to be a hope of seed security to many.