Building Diversity through Seed Fairs in Kenya
Growing a diversity of crops or crop varieties reduces risk of failure of one particular crop due to pests or drought. Practical Action works towards ensuring that local seeds are valued and are able to be shared in order to preserve diversity for future generations in an effort to build more resilient agricultural systems. In Kenya, farmers in Tharaka have traditionally grown a wider variety of grains for their different benefits: fast maturing, good taste, or high market price. However, after a number of severe droughts many of these varieties were lost. Drought relief organisations gave farmers other varieties of seeds, not suitable to the local soils and climate. Practical Action in Kenya has been working with local farmers to try and revive as many lost varieties through organising seed fairs at which local producers can display and sell local seeds. Seeds include local varieties of grains (millet, sorghum and maize) and also vegetables and legumes (such as pumpkins and mung beans).
Even after the project finished, these seed fairs are still taking place and farmers say that they can now grow a diversity of crops and that harvests are more secure as a result.