Seed System is a collaboration among diverse national and international organizations aiming to improve seed security in high stress and vulnerable areas across the world.

About This Website

This website is dedicated to strengthening smallholder farmers’ seed systems. is for practitioners, researchers, managers, policy-makers and donors working in humanitarian relief and agricultural development. Let us move forward as a Community of Practice that promotes seed system security and puts the needs of women and men farmers fully front and center. This site shares resources (tried-and-tested technical guidance!) and has three main aims:

  • to improve intervention practice;
  • to improve assessment;
  • to improve strategic thinking around seed system response and seed system development.

Humanitarian Relief

During periods of disaster–whether drought, flood, earthquakes, political instability, civil strife or displacement—seed system responses need to take place quickly. Good interventions can bolster vulnerable seed systems in sustainable ways; poor interventions do real harm—compromise farmers’ food security and create dependencies. offers practical ‘how- to’ advice to guide immediate humanitarian response. It starts step-by-step with the assessment—the seed system security assessment (SSSA)—and then moves to key responses—bolstering markets, promoting resilience and putting farmers in the decision-making chair.

Chronic Stress and Seed System Development focuses equally on interventions for chronic stress regions, areas that are environmentally harsh and/or lacking development institutions and innovations. Tools and approaches seek to spur plant breeding, seed production and delivery, and agro-enterprise responses that serve diverse types of farmers. One size rarely fits all and poor, vulnerable farmers deserve interventions tailored to their needs—really practical and sustainable solutions. We welcome you to this site. Make liberal use of the practice briefs, system assessment tools, diagnostic manuals, background reviews, and policy guides. Most of all, comment, share, give feedback. Let us work together to make seed system interventions more effective!

Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was founded in 1943 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to assist the poor and disadvantaged overseas. CRS’ mission statement calls the agency to alleviate human suffering, advance full human development, and foster charity and justice in the world. While CRS seeks to capitalize on its strategic advantages as a faith based organization, all of its programs assist persons on the basis of need, regardless of creed, ethnicity or nationality. CRS is one of the world’s largest private voluntary organizations, supporting relief and development work in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide. Because much of its work is focused on the rural poor, agriculture is a key priority. CRS implements agriculture programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. CRS focuses on smallholder farmers and collaborates with farmers through participatory methods, building upon and improving current practices, and developing sustainable agricultural strategies accordingly. CRS programs impact entire farming systems, seeking diversity for stability of production and income, integration with household nutrition, gender, and other socio-economic factors. CRS is a leader in the PVO community in regards to seed systems in both relief and development situations. Our publications on this topic can be found both on this SeedSystem website and on our home website at (About Us/Publications).


The International Center for Tropical Agriculture

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)—a member of the CGIAR Consortium—develops technologies, innovative methods, and new knowledge that better enable farmers, specially smallholders, to make agriculture eco-efficient—that is, competitive and profitable as well as sustainable and resilient. Eco-efficient agriculture reduces hunger and poverty, improves human nutrition, and offers solutions to environmental degradation and climate change in the tropics. Headquartered near Cali, Colombia, CIAT conducts research for development in tropical regions of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.



The Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) was established in 1996 to improve the food security, income and health of smallholder farmers and urban dwellers across Africa through bean research. Facilitated by CIAT, the alliance works in partnership with more than 415 partners and members across 30 countries to strengthen national bean programs, and develop and disseminate new bean technologies. As a result of these collective efforts, improved bean varieties and production practices have reached over 19.5 million rural households. Moreover, the alliance has helped a number of African nations bounce back from conflict and high stress situations. For instance, Rwanda has transformed climbing beans from a subsistence crop into a cash crop, and is now a net bean exporter. In Ethiopia, the average yield nearly doubled, from 0.86 tons per ha to 1.49 tons per ha between 2004 and 2014. The world’s newest country, South Sudan, became the 29th country to join PABRA (in 2013).

The United States Agency for International Development

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent government agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. Within USAID, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is responsible for leading and coordinating the U.S. Government’s response to disasters overseas. OFDA responds to an average of 70 disasters in 56 countries every year to ensure aid reaches people affected by rapid on-set disasters—such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods—and slow-onset crises, including drought and conflict.