Bioversity International's 'Seeds for Needs' initiative works with farmers to research how agricultural biodiversity can help minimize the risks associated with climate change. The concept is simple – if farmers have better information and access to a wide range of varieties, they are more able to choose what best suits their conditions and cope with unpredictable weather.
The Seeds for Needs initiative is trying to encourage this by:
- exposing farmer to more crop varieties and increase their first-hand knowledge about different traits and options available
- strengthening their seed systems and seed-saving capacity so that they always have access to planting material that fits their changing needs.
The 'Seeds for Needs' initiative conducts field trials with farmers to evaluate the performance of crop varieties that have been pre-selected through geospatial analysis (GIS). The favourites (usually around 20 varieties) are then blind-tested by farmers through a crowdsourcing approach, where each farmer evaluates 3 randomly-assigned varieties on their own farm. The initiative now involves around 10,000 farmers worldwide. Find out more about how this is working in India by watching the video below, or read about crowdsourcing in this Q&A interview with Bioversity scientist Jacob van Etten.
Seeds for Needs started in Ethiopia in 2009, and was one of the winning projects of the World Bank's Development Marketplace award in the same year.
We now have project sites in 11 countries:
- Cambodia: rice, sweet potato
- Colombia: beans
- Ethiopia: barley, wheat (read the impact brief)
- Honduras: beans
- India: rice, wheat
- Kenya and Tanzania: cowpea, pigeon pea, sorghum
- Laos: cucumber, long bean, rice, sweet corn, watermelon
- Papua New Guinea: sweet potato, taro
- Rwanda and Uganda: beans
Bioversity scientists are using improved and affordable iButton sensors to measure local weather in farmers' fields under the Seeds for Needs Initiative. Learn how to use them in Bioversity's technical manual: Collecting Weather Data in the Field with High Spatial and Temporal Resolution Using iButtons.
- Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)
- National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI)
- Ashok Sansthan
- Gene Campaign
- Humana People to People India (HPPI)
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
- Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
- Nand Educational Foundation for Rural Development (NEFORD)
- National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI)