The seed fairs were organized according to the FAO guidelines, which are attached as Annex 2. One of the purposes of these seed fairs was to test the effectiveness of the guidelines.
Following discussions with village leaders, the research teams held general meetings at each seed fair village. During these meetings, the research teams highlighted the objectives and advantages of the seed fair and asked farmers to identify and select knowledgeable farmers to display materials and explain techniques at the fairs. The aim was to avoid overcrowding of the displays and to encourage equal participation between men and women farmers. In two of the villages - one from each zone - some of the selected farmers formed groups to prepare larger, shared displays.
The formation of a village-level organizing committee for each seed fair was an important factor in creating a sense of ownership of the activity. The role of research team members was to advise and facilitate, while the committees played the leading role in planning and conducting the seed fairs and carrying out post-implementation evaluation.
Committee members included project extension staff members and key representatives from the community: staff from the school, church, mosque and local organizations, farmers and village leaders. Both women and men were included in the committees. Seed fair committees met to carry out the necessary planning before the seed fairs were implemented. Clear roles and responsibilities were defined for the committee members so that each knew her/his responsibilities. Specific committee tasks were to mobilize village farmers, prepare the exhibition sites, organize and ensure security during the seed fairs, and arrange entertainments during the fairs.
A coordinator was selected from among the team members of each committee. As well as overseeing all the activities in the plan, the coordinator was also responsible for:
discussing issues and recruiting community members for involvement in the seed fairs;
meeting with participants and planning activities;
reporting to the committee;
ensuring that participants and materials were ready in time for the seed fair;
after the seed fair, reviewing it with participants and the committee to discuss how it had been received and how it could be improved.
The committee and activity coordinators carried out the necessary advance planning for the seed fairs. It was decided that the sites for the fairs should be open spaces with enough room to accommodate small temporary tables or huts and a large number of people. One of the southern highland villages offered a community field for the event, which was an encouraging sign of the community's sense of ownership in the seed fair.
The committees also set the dates for the seed fairs, so that they were convenient for both the host village and the neighbouring villages in the ward. It was decided to hold the fairs after the main harvest, when most local farmers have brought their crops home for processing and have large supplies of seeds to display. The committees decided who to invite from the ward, division and district levels, and who should be the guest of honour. Songs and dances related to seed fairs and crop diversity were created and practised.