Joy Mugisha stands tall in front of her demonstration farm, an island of conservation and productivity in the middle of the degraded hills of Kagango, a district of Bushenyi, in south-western Uganda. Joy is a farmer whosemission is to promote the multiplication and use of indigenous seeds at large scale in Uganda, by supporting her community through on-farm trainings and workshops.
Her journey started in 2005, when she was involved, as a representative of Bushenyi’s farmers, in the project ‘Conservation of crop diversity to controlpests and diseases in support of sustainable agriculture,’ led by Bioversity International and the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO). At that time, Joy was growing different kinds of crops, mainly beans and bananas, for home consumption. She used to obtain seeds from the informal seed system, local markets, neighbors and friends.
Seed systems include a variety of actors and activities, from conservation to breeding, from seed inspection to distribution. One common past shortcoming in breeding systems was to involve only men farmers in the identification of important traits. This frequently led to a rejection by women farmers when the seeds lacked traits they valued.