Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers‘ food security

Smallholders often use informal seed systems to meet their seed needs. The project increases the access, availability and necessary diversity of adapted seeds to smallholders to reduce their vulnerability to shocks and contribute to their food and nutrition security. In national and global policy dialogues improved and pluralistic seed systems that better respond to the reality and the needs of smallholders are promoted and smallholders will get political recognition for their role in germplasm conservation.

Paese/Regione Tema Periodo Budget
Agricoltura e sicurezza alimentare
Canbiamento climatico ed ambiente
Politica agricola
01.10.2017 - 30.09.2022
CHF  1’900’000

Smallholder farmers often use traditional or informal sources to meet their seed needs. Despite impressive efforts to develop national seed sectors where private enterprises play a central role and seed quality is regulated according to international standards, the formal sector provides less than 5% of the seeds used to produce traditional staple foods of West Africa and less than 10% of rice in Nepal.

In many countries and areas traditional seed systems are threatended by rapid environmental changes, crop genetic erosion and often distorted by effects of international markets and agricultural policies.


Reducing the vulnerability of smallholders through enhanced access to diverse and adaptive crop varieties through improved and pluralistic seed systems.

Gruppi target

Smallholder farmers who produce seed, either individually or as part of seed producer groups, cooperatives and community seedbanks and smallholder farmers who will gain access to more seed, of better quality and better adapted to environmental conditions and farmers’ preferences are the main beneficiaries.

Researchers, technicians and decision makers at various governmental levels will obtain a better understanding of the existing diversity of the target crops, local seed systems and of their potential to contribute to agricultural development, and a closer connection to actors involved in these systems. This should translate in better informed policies and programmes.

Effetti a medio termine
  1. The capacity and diversity of seed suppliers, institutions and other stakeholders are enhanced to enable the provision of local crop genetic diversity planting materials in large enough quantities, and with the necessary quality, to minimize risk for smallholders in vulnerable agro-ecosystems.
  2. Sufficient crop genetic diversity in the form of seeds and other planting materials is available to smallholders to increase productive gains, while at the same time maintaining resilience against the probability of future crop and ecosystem service losses due to external shocks.
  3. Local, national and international institutions and policies on seed systems are better connected to the realities of smallholder farmers and support the development of pluralistic seed systems.



Risultati principali attesi:  

Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Uganda and Uzbekistan:

  • Increased capacities to sustainably manage seed business and community seed banks;
  • production, registration, certification and marketing of local varieties is reflected in national seed systems and national laws

Global: Actors in relevant international policy fora consider policy recommendtions based on the project experience.


Risultati fasi precedenti:  

Operational level:

  • 2 community seed banks established in Uganda;
  • Around 100’000 kg of good quality seeds (certified or truthfully labelled) produced;

Policy level:

  • 12 traditional varieties of potato, rice and carrot presented for inclusion in the national catalogue of commercial varieties in Bolivia, Nepal and Uzbekistan;
  • The new category of Quality Declared Seed was added to the seed policy and legislation in Uganda;
  • Promotion of crop diversification through fruits and vegetables by the agricultural development programme of Uzbekistan;
  • Difficult political environment, social insecurity and poor project coordination and communication affected the implementation in Burkina Faso.


Direzione/Ufficio responsabile DSC
Credito Cooperazione allo sviluppo
Partner del progetto Partner contrattuale
Instituzione universitaria e di ricerca straniera
  • Gruppo consultivo per la ricerca agricola internazionale

Coordinamento con altri progetti e attori

The lead institutes in the respective countries are responsible for the implementation of the project and the collaboration of the relevant actors.

Complementarities and synergies with other initiatives funded by IFAD, FAO/GEF, World Bank, etc. will be sought in all project countries.

The SDC project “Strengthening Agro-biodiversity in Southern Africa” offers further synergies.

Budget Fase in corso Budget Svizzera CHF    1’900’000 Budget svizzero attualmente già speso CHF    1’710’000
Fasi del progetto Fase 2 01.10.2017 - 30.09.2022   (Fase in corso) Fase 1 01.08.2012 - 31.12.2016   (Completed)