How we act
The power of the SD=HS program lies in its multi-stakeholder and gender-just approach. Rather than simply sharing technology, or training farmers to produce seeds for distribution to other farmers, the program is centered on people’s capacities to organize their own work, learn amongst themselves and from committed experts, create locally adapted crop varieties and engage in changing government policies.
The scope of our program has triggered us to work from different angles. From four interconnected pillars we work towards a fair, sustainable and gender-just global food production system.
Pillar 2 Farmer Seed EnterprisesSD=HS enhances the livelihoods and seed security of indigenous peoples and smallholder farmers by producing and marketing good quality seeds of a diverse portfolio of crops through public-private partnerships.
Pillar 3 Women, Seeds and NutritionSD=HS empowers women to reclaim their role in food and nutrition security through strengthening their capacity in seed management, their knowledge of nutrition aspects and global policy engagement helping them to claim and realize their right to food.
Pillar 4 Governance and Knowledge SystemsSD=HS strengthens the capacities and knowledge base of developing countries and their indigenous peoples and smallholder farmers to secure national, regional and global policies and legislation for the full implementation of Farmers’ Rights and to realize the right to food. It does so by connecting experiences from the community level and farmers’ interests with global policy making.
What we do
SD=HS supports and helps build Farmer Field Schools. The Farmer Field Schools are a tried, tested and proven method of empowering farmers. Local farmers collectively learn to define problems, seek solutions and set targets. With the support of scientists and local extension staff, farmers learn breeding and selection approaches, and in the process they test the seeds of new varieties and to share their observations on these seeds.
Farmer Seed Enterprises (FSEs) take the form of seed production and marketing cooperatives. They vary in size, organizational structure and market engagement, ranging from village-based groups to larger-scale commercial companies. The central objective of the FSEs is to provide small farmers in diverse and stressful production areas with well-adapted appropriate varieties of high-quality seeds; to improve the diffusion of farmers’ varieties and to increase availability of plant genetic diversity in wider seed markets.
Community Seed Banks serve to keep seeds available for local communities from one planting season to the next, or even over several growing seasons. SD=HS helps set up Seed banks that maintain diversity for crop improvement and may serve as strategic reserves for farmers during times of disaster. At Seed Fairs, farmers come together to show and exchange crops and their seeds. Fairs are ideal platforms for sharing knowledge and experiences on crop diversity, seed management and creating better farming systems.
Men and women play different roles in food production and seed management. To effectively improve food security, seed security and farmers’ livelihoods, SD=HS recognizes these different roles and discusses an optimal, fair, and equitable division of labor, decision-making, and access to plant genetic resources. The program helps empower women to reclaim their role in providing food security through strengthening their capacity in crop management and nutrition as well as in global policy engagement.
Strengthening farmer-managed seed systems requires conducive policies in order for these systems to be sustainable. SD=HS promotes policy engagement from local to national, regional and global levels. The key objective is farmers’ empowerment, whereby local communities’ awareness of seed policies is increased and their capacity to engage in and influence local to global food, agriculture, and climate change policies is reinforced. SD=HS connects farmers to high-level global stakeholders and influences relevant national, regional and global policy-making processes.