Across fragile states in Africa, conflict and other protracted crises as well as increasing climate stresses, are compounding smallholder farmers’ challenges of accessing and using sufficient amounts of high quality, affordable and diversified seed of locally adapted varieties that farmers prefer. The result is lower resilience to continued shocks and stresses, lower farm income, reduced food and nutrition security and commonly, the unsustainable use of agrobiodiversity.

Seed interventions are a particular focus of humanitarian aid, as seed is relatively easy for farmers to use and can give quick returns. While good seed aid can bolster farming systems, poor seed aid can increase farmers’ vulnerability. For instance, seed that arrives too late or poorly adapted seed wastes farmers’ land and labor resources. Also, aid repeated over multiple seasons breeds farmer dependency and stifles the development of commercial seed enterprises.

Through ISSD Africa, Mercy Corps and SeedSystem have developed 10 Guiding Principles for Good Seed Aid Practice. The Principles will guide practitioners to ensure their interventions support local seed systems and markets and give farming communities the right support, at the right time.