Hivos International

Open Source Seed Systems Documents

Scroll down this page to open and download Open Source Seeds Systems factsheets, workshop reports and documents. Click on 'expand' for a summary and to download the documents in pdf.

Open Source Seed Systems in Kenya: March 2017 workshop report

The main aim of the workshop was to inspire and build leadership on improving access to seeds for smallholder resource-poor farmers in Kenya through exploring and developing open source seed systems. It was a follow up to an International workshop held from 4th – 7th October 2016 by the consortium of implementing partners in Ethiopia which brought together farmers, researchers, government staff, private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as well as those working at regional or global level on issues of influence in these countries. » expand

The main aim of the workshop was to inspire and build leadership on improving access to seeds for smallholder resource-poor farmers in Kenya through exploring and developing open source seed systems. It was a follow up to an International workshop held from 4th – 7th October 2016 by the consortium of implementing partners in Ethiopia which brought together farmers, researchers, government staff, private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as well as those working at regional or global level on issues of influence in these countries.

The Kenya workshop brought together 35 different stakeholders among them farmers, researchers, civil society organisations, representatives from the private sector and government agencies. It was organized by the Genetic Resources and Research Institute of the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization, Bioversity International, Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Africa (SANREM-AFRICA) and Hivos with the support from the Open Society Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Benefit sharing fund.

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Open Source Seed Systems in Uganda: workshop report December 2016

This report entails the proceedings of the Uganda Stakeholders Workshop which brought together 31 participants held at Fairway hotel and Spa, Kampala, Uganda  from 6th – 8th December  2016. The Uganda Stakeholders Workshop on Open Source Seed Systems was organized by the Plant Genetic Resources Centre of the National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda, Bioversity International, Environmental Resources Management Centre for Sustainable Development and Hivos with the support from the Open Society Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Benefit Sharing Fund. » expand

This report entails the proceedings of the Uganda Stakeholders Workshop which brought together 31 participants held at Fairway hotel and Spa, Kampala, Uganda  from 6th – 8th December  2016. The Uganda Stakeholders Workshop on Open Source Seed Systems was organized by the Plant Genetic Resources Centre of the National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda, Bioversity International, Environmental Resources Management Centre for Sustainable Development and Hivos with the support from the Open Society Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Benefit Sharing Fund.

The Workshop which was a build up from the Inter-national Workshop held in Ethiopia in October 2016 aimed at inspiring and building leadership in improving access to seed for the resource poor farmers in Uganda through exploring and developing Open Source Seed Systems. The participants comprised of farmers, researchers, government officers, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations from Uganda.

Open Source Seed Systems in Ethiopia: workshop report October 2016

It is with great pleasure that we offer you this Ethiopia workshop report. It tells about our efforts to explore open source seed systems and find out how it can help us reversing the current trend of diminishing diversity by promoting the freedom to use seeds, and stimulate breeding diversification and resilience in countries in East Africa. 35 people participated; all highly knowledgeable on seeds issues. We went through the U of the so-called Theory U, arrived at the tip of the right end of the U and enjoyed it. The process allowed for connecting (speed dating), for co-sensing (understanding perceptions of different actors by working in stakeholder groups, learning journeys), for co-presencing (through provocative presentations, empathy walk, world café) and co-creating (prototyping, working on national action plans). All present appreciated the outcomes as well as the strong and creative facilitation. » expand

It is with great pleasure that we offer you this Ethiopia workshop report. It tells about our efforts to explore open source seed systems and find out how it can help us reversing the current trend of diminishing diversity by promoting the freedom to use seeds, and stimulate breeding diversification and resilience in countries in East Africa. 35 people participated; all highly knowledgeable on seeds issues. We went through the U of the so-called Theory U, arrived at the tip of the right end of the U and enjoyed it. The process allowed for connecting (speed dating), for co-sensing (understanding perceptions of different actors by working in stakeholder groups, learning journeys), for co-presencing (through provocative presentations, empathy walk, world café) and co-creating (prototyping, working on national action plans). All present appreciated the outcomes as well as the strong and creative facilitation.

Participants indicated interest to further explore the possibility to develop open source seed systems in their respective countries. Coordinators have been identified and action plans developed. There is always a challenge to continue after the workshop ends. Hivos is committed to support and coach the upcoming initiatives. One of the next steps is organising national workshops to follow up on the national plans and identify further interest in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Hivos will continue to convene virtual or physical exchanges, design processes to move forward and explore new options. One such option is exploring market based approaches for open source seed systems through seeking and stimulating the involvement of social entrepreneurs (CSBs, ethical seed companies, ICT tools adding value and open source seed networks).

Overall the workshop laid the foundation for a strong involvement of East African participants in a global open source seed systems movement. If you are interested to join the global alliance, do contact us. We have a virtual platform (dgroups) in place that enables us to learn, exchange and plan for joint activities.

Open Source Seed Systems Factsheet

Seeds are the soul of agriculture. Over the past 30 years diversity has decreased dramatically. Only 25% of important food crops like rice and maize remain. Without access to a rich diversity of seeds, each with its own specifi c characteristics, farmers are not able to adapt to droughts or floods, to new pests and diseases, changing rainfall patterns and other climate change challenges. » expand

Seeds are the soul of agriculture. Over the past 30 years diversity has decreased dramatically. Only 25% of important food crops like rice and maize remain. Without access to a rich diversity of seeds, each with its own specifi c characteristics, farmers are not able to adapt to droughts or floods, to new pests and diseases, changing rainfall patterns and other climate change challenges.

What if we could create a mechanism that increases on-farm diversity? Open source seed systems aim to do that. Seeds remain freely available without patents. Open source seed systems lead to ‘protected commons’. Registration and sharing mechanism through pledges, licenses or other forms of contracts defi ning general business terms and conditions are important tools to create the necessary moral, ethical and legal protection. These systems also expand the pool of genetic resources for conditional use by scientists, farmers and gardeners now and in the future.

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Open Source Seed Systems Factsheet4.09 MB

Options for National Governments to Support Smallholder Farmer Seed Systems-the cases of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

This brief, based on a literature review, examines how current seed policies and laws in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda affect smallholder farmer seed systems. The brief concludes that smallholder farmers are affected by low levels of recognition of and support for their seed management practices. This is contributing to less and more fragile crop diversity in the field and on their plates. The report also suggests that the concrete, field level impact of the most relevant seed related policies and laws for the time being remains modest. What can be done to increase recognition and support of smallholder farmers as seed managers and custodians? » expand

This brief, based on a literature review, examines how current seed policies and laws in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda affect smallholder farmer seed systems. The brief concludes that smallholder farmers are affected by low levels of recognition of and support for their seed management practices. This is contributing to less and more fragile crop diversity in the field and on their plates. The report also suggests that the concrete, field level impact of the most relevant seed related policies and laws for the time being remains modest. What can be done to increase recognition and support of smallholder farmers as seed managers and custodians?

Recognizing the potential role of farmers in improving diversity through selection and breeding is crucial. Diversity and resilience can be harnessed by more people selecting and developing new varieties and by ensuring that those new varieties remain accessible for future use.

HIVOS and Bioversity International encourage all readers to join in the current debates on the future of seed management and to explore the possible contribution of open source seeds to more resilient and diverse food systems.

Building Open Source Seed Systems

The global seed sector is increasingly driven by proprietary controls, turning the seed that grows into our food into a ‘commercial proprietary resource’. This trend has severe impacts on farmers and their informal seed systems, resulting in increased economic and ecological costs and making farmers lose their control over their natural resources. » expand

The global seed sector is increasingly driven by proprietary controls, turning the seed that grows into our food into a ‘commercial proprietary resource’. This trend has severe impacts on farmers and their informal seed systems, resulting in increased economic and ecological costs and making farmers lose their control over their natural resources.

Existing legal frameworks primarily upholds breeders' and researchers' rights, granting farmers only residual rights. The Hivos-Oxfam Novib Knowledge Programme on agricultural biodiversity, with its partners, is exploring alternatives to the current system. A project of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) in India was supported to develop a proof of concept of an Open Source Seed System, as an alternative institutional and legal framework to protect farmers' rights and access to seed.

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Building Open Source Seed Systems2.84 MB

Kenya OSSS Disrupt! Report Feb. 2017

Hivos and  Kenya Climate Innovation Centre organised a 2, 5 day Disrupt! at Strathmore Business School, Nairobi. We brought together entrepreneurs with an interest in small holder farmers and their specific demands for certain seeds with the aim to strengthen their value proposition and showcase the viability of their business case. » expand

Hivos and  Kenya Climate Innovation Centre organised a 2, 5 day Disrupt! at Strathmore Business School, Nairobi. We brought together entrepreneurs with an interest in small holder farmers and their specific demands for certain seeds with the aim to strengthen their value proposition and showcase the viability of their business case.

The Disrupt! event was a competitive ideathon event. The entrepreneurs were supported by coaches of Hivos and KCIC and seed expert Gloria Otieno (Bioversity International) to bring their business idea to the next level. At the end of the event eight participants pitched their idea/business case for a jury and audience of around 35 people.

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Kenya OSSS Disrupt! Report Feb. 20173.57 MB