Nestled along the Naivasha Nakuru highway is seedsavers. A local organization solely preserving foods indigenous to Kenya. Started in 2009, the organisation’s mandate is to conserve agrobiodiversity by strengthening communities’ seed systems for improved seed access and enhanced food sovereignty.
Through research, the organization has identified issues ailing the agro – ecology sector. This includes lack of free and open access of seeds to small scale famers due to patent and breeder rights mostly set by commercial producers of seeds. To mitigate this, the organization has started a community seed bank that conserves seeds whose genetic composition is not can be traced to Kenyan farmers. The organization also takes farmers through training on how to monitor, harvest and preserve seeds for planting. This ensures a continuity in nutritiously advantageous crops, access of seeds by farmers for planting and preservation of community heirlooms.
Commercialisation and over hype of perfection is also a contributor to the styles used during farming. Consumers are used to picking perfect foods from shelves which drives up sales. The organization is on a journey to change attitudes on food so that we consume food that is good for us and not that which is only aesthetically pleasing. By relying on local knowledge, the organization is leading farmers in using local, ecofriendly ways of farming. This includes embracing local remedies to diseases and pests that might not work at a hundred percent like modern chemicals but do not affect the soil as well as the consumer.
Women are the majority of farmers especially in small scale and are the custodian of seed. These activities however are not considered ‘revenue-generating’ and thus women tend to lack resources to advance or explore other economic areas. Due to this and the fact that in most households, women dictate the food and its source, CRAWN Trust in partnership with seedsavers seeks to empower women in urban settings to have a reliable food source. Through practical training, support in set-up of kitchen gardens and provision of seed knowledge, the partners want to ease the impacts of food insecurity. By setting up food hubs in Nairobi and neighboring counties, families can have gardens to substitute their food source which is mainly through purchase. This also elevates the financial pressure implicated by the need to feed one’s family.