Seeds of Survival

USC Canada’s Seeds of Survival established in the late 1980s, has been a groundbreaking, farmer-led program of biodiversity conservation, management and use.

The key visionary, Dr Melaku Worede, was the 1989 recipient of the Right Livelihood Award. In his acceptance speech, Dr Melaku praised farmers around the world for their role in “building up the world’s genetic resource base”. He also urged scientists to respect and learn from farmers’ time-tested knowledge and skills, and to collaborate with them as equal partners.

The impact and reach of Seeds of Survival has been extraordinary. Grounded in this farmer-first philosophy, what began as a seed rescue operation in Ethiopia has now developed into a global movement in support of farmer-led seed saving programs.

Hundreds of practitioners from around the world have been trained – returning to their home countries to start their own on-farm biodiversity conservation programs – and international organizations now regularly feature seed saving programs as part of their development efforts.

In 1999, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation awarded USC Canada its International Cooperation Award for its Seeds of Survival work globally.

USC currently supports programs in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cuba, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mali, Nepal, Senegal and Timor Leste.

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