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Annex 1: Synthesis of four village seed fairs

The following are some basic facts and figures about the four seed fairs described in this study.


Central Zone


26 people showed crops
14 women
12 men


32 people and 1 school showed crops
17 women
15 men


58 people and 1 school showed crops
31 women
27 men

Southern Highlands


21 groups and four individual farmers showed crops
These figures were not broken down according to gender.


Numbers not available

In general, more women than men farmers attended and/or displayed crops and seeds at the fairs. Fewer women attend larger-scale agricultural fairs and exhibitions, because women rarely travel long distances and are less interested in the improved cash crops that larger-scale events tend to concentrate on.

Crop categories displayed

The tables below show the categories of crops shown.

Farmers focused mainly on staple crops, but many neglected and collected crops were also shown. Few cash crops were shown. Research team members were surprised to find some new crop varieties that they had not seen before.

Women showed far more collected crops than men did; for example, in Dabalo in the central zone, two men showed collected crops, compared with ten women.

Cash crops

Staple crops

Neglected crops

Colleted crops

New varieties


Central Zone















Southern Highlands















Far more local than modern crop varieties were displayed.

Local varieties

Modern varieties


Central Zone









Southern Highlands






* Crop varieties displayed in Malinzanga were not recorded according to whether they were local or modern.

Crop varieties shown

In Shinji (Southern Highlands), farmers showed a large number of local crop varieties of:

In Dabalo (Central Zone) the following were shown:

In Misughaa (Central Zone) the following were shown:

Annex 2: FAO/LINKS Project guidelines for conducting community seed fairs

Project field research in rural communities helps to create awareness of local crop diversity and related issues among community members, the research team and other stakeholders. A surprising number of farmers often know very little about the different crop varieties that are being used by other farmers living in the same rural community. Research greatly increases farmers' and researchers' awareness of crop diversity within rural communities, and there is a need to strengthen this process further through the use of community events. Seed fairs are a good way of achieving this.

At community seed fairs, farmers have the possibility of showing and exchanging small quantities of their seed. Seed fairs provide them with the opportunity to meet and discuss not only seeds, but also local practices and knowledge linked to specific seed varieties. In order to make seed fairs affordable for rural farmers, they should be organized on a small scale and cover only a few communities. Based on the wealth of local crop varieties available in the communities, seed fairs focus mainly on local crop diversity (improved, local, neglected and collected crops). Hybrid seeds can also be exhibited, but they should not be the main focus of a fair.

The advantage of small-scale seed fairs is that smallholder farmers can participate without problems. Few travel costs are involved, and women - who are the key people for neglected and collected crops - find it easier to attend. Another advantage of local seed fairs is that the seeds displayed are easily accessible, as they rely on local resources rather than on those from outside the community. This makes follow-up easier for the farmers; when they have exchanged seed varieties, they can discuss their experiences, thereby strengthening further exchange and communication, including through the establishment of local networks.

The following are some points to consider in the planning and implementation of a community seed fair.

Community ownership

The most important factor in a useful community seed fair is that the community feels ownership of it. This can best be accomplished by giving the lead role to a seed fair organizing committee with community representation. The formation of a seed fair organizing committee is the first action in the planning of a seed fair.

Theme, objectives and activities

The seed fair should be given a theme that captures the interest and significance of crop diversity for the local community and suits local culture. The community needs to have a clear idea of the seed fair objective so that activities can be planned and then evaluated after the fair.

The following are some suggested objectives for a seed fair. A fair should have no more than two objectives.

Objective 1: Raising awareness of local crop diversity at the rural community level

Objective 2: Educating the community (including the younger generation) about crop diversity. With the involvement of students, an educational component can be presented that will help the future conservation and use of crop diversity

Objective 3: Buying, selling and bartering seed to encourage the conservation of crop diversity and spread it among local farmers

Objective 4: Encouraging community-level production of crop diversity

Planning the activities

Based on the identified objectives, the following activities should be carried out:


Community seed fairs must be sustainable. Every effort should be made to make the event self-funded based on the contributions of time and effort from the committee and participants. Local sources of sponsorship should be arranged if needed. Ideally, community seed fairs should be held regularly, twice a year. This would give farmers two reliable opportunities a year to find seed varieties that they have lost or long been looking for.

Public awareness

It is essential to inform the community of the seed fair in advance so that sufficient seed is saved for display and exchange. Local means should be used to create awareness through announcements at public events, posters, radio and leaflets.

Conducting the seed fair

The seed fair committee and activity coordinators must plan in advance:

Contact between activity coordinators and participants is necessary:

The farmers and the crop diversity they display should be registered for follow-up after the event:

The project staff should use this opportunity to review the crop diversity displayed, compare this with the findings of the study and record additional crop diversity.

A set programme should be followed as closely as possible, starting with an opening statement by the seed fair committee and invited guests:

Awards and recognition

For the community members who are conserving crop diversity, recognition is an essential element of a seed fair. Awards can be provided for the most crops, most varieties of a crop, best display, best activity and best presentation. Simple awards of seed, certificates or tools can be provided.

Monitoring and evaluation

After the seed fair, the seed fair committee should meet to review how it was received and to determine how it could be improved and when the next seed fair should be held.

Ideally, seed fairs should be organized twice or three times a year, before each planting season. Farmers need to understand the routine of regular seed fairs.

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