What problem did it address, where?
Smallholder farmers are the custodians of agricultural diversity and are partners in management of agrobiodiversity. Community seed fairs in Tanzania were organized to raise awareness about local crop diversity and to provide learning opportunities for the rural community (including the younger generations), researchers, extension staff and organizations dealing with seeds, about the importance of crop diversity and local knowledge in food security. The seed fairs also provided farmers with a meeting place where they could buy, sell and barter seed, thus encouraging conservation of crop diversity and spreading of local seed varieties among farmers.
The community seed fairs allowed farmers to exchange information about seed varieties and demonstrated the wealth of crop varieties existing in Central Zone and Southern Highlands of Tanzania - both to the farmers themselves and to researchers and extension workers and others visiting the seed fairs. Seed fairs increase the appreciation of local knowledge and the roles and responsibilities of farmers in managing agro-biodiversity.
The seed fairs in Tanzania were organized on a small scale at rural community level in order to make them accessible and affordable for the rural communities. Organizing them at local level meant that there were only little travel costs involved, and women, as the main key persons concerning neglected and collected crops, found it easier to participate. Another advantage of the local seed fairs was that the displayed seeds were easily accessible; the seed fairs relied on local resources and were not dependent on resources from outside the community. This also meant that a follow-up for the farmers was easier. After having exchanged some seed varieties, the experience, local practices and specific knowledge were discussed and further exchange and communication was strengthened, local networks were thus reinforced.
The community seed fairs gave farmers the possibility to show and exchange their seed in small quantities. Four seed fairs were organised, and each attracted around 2000 people, mainly farmers of the community and neighbouring communities. The main resources and inputs utilized to implement the practice were: 1-2 extension staff/researchers to present the idea to rural communities, 3-4 preparation meetings with farmers, awards for participating farmers, and transport allowances.
Guidelines on community seed fairs will be finalized and disseminated to rural communities, extension staff and national research institutions. Provide technical support and guidance to rural communities and agricultural institutions to organize seed fairs on a regular basis.