Seed fairs revive a battered tradition
Chokwe, Mozambique - When floods devastated the district in 2000, many relief organizations sent agricultural inputs such as seed. However, some of the seeds, from neighbouring countries or even as far away as North America, were not adapted to the local ecology and did not do well.
A better and longer-term solution may be local seed fairs, which bring together local farmers who have surplus seed of traditional food crops to sell or trade with other farmers looking for such seed.
The government gives the poorest seedless farmers vouchers, which can be exchanged for seed at the fair. This allows the farmers to select and buy their preferred seed varieties. Developed by the government and FAO, the seed fair programme has already held two well-attended fairs in the area.
"Seed fairs are meant to revitalize the traditional exchange of seeds, which has been affected by the disasters," says Francisca Langa, a district extension officer. "We make sure women, who are the traditional seed managers, get the vouchers, because they are a type of money and men might take them and sell them."
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