CRS seed vouchers & fairs – an innovative approach to help farm communities recover from disaster
Summary of internal evaluation
Exchange of seed vouchers for seed in Kiritiri, Mbeere district
CRS have recently been involved in two innovative seeds projects in northern Uganda and Kenya.
CRS/Uganda Karamojong incursion project
In early 2000, Karamojong pastoralists moved in search of pasture thereby displacing an estimated 100,000 persons in Lira and Kitgum districts in northern Uganda. In response, CRS/Uganda developed a plan to assist 12,000 families obtain seed to plant when they returned home.
Lack of access to seed, rather than a lack of local availability, was identified as a major constraint to planting. With this realisation CRS developed a novel voucher system to help families get hold of seed. Rather than purchase commercial seed and distribute it to farm families, vouchers were issued that could be redeemed for commercial seed from stockists or for traditional seed from local grain traders. This was the first time that CRS had implemented this type of voucher system.
An evaluation of the project concluded that the Karamojong Incursion Project was a success for the following reasons:
- 12,000 families accessed over 200 MTs of seed of 10 different crops and 30 different varieties
- Both farmers and traders were empowered to organise procurement, transport, marketing and purchase of seed
- Almost 50% of the participating grain traders were women
- Farmers were able to access seed varieties that are traditionally planted late.
One negative aspect of the programme was that instances of coercion of voucher holders by traders were reported, highlighting the need for close supervision of the process.
Combining seed vouchers and seed fairs in Eastern Kenya
In late 2000, with the start of the short rains approaching, CRS/Kenya approached FAO to fund a project that combined seed fairs and a voucher system as a means of helping farm families obtain preferred crops and varieties.
CRS and its partners were able to organise a total of 14 seed fairs with 275 participating grain traders (more than 75% of whom were women). Over 8000 farm families accessed seeds of their choice through voucher exchange at the seed fairs. The entire project (family targeting, voucher distribution and fair organisation) was implemented within a three week period prior to the onset of the rains. In contrast, many relief agencies that ordered seed from commercial companies did not receive supplies in time for planting. In addition, the CRS project proved greater value for money. Farmers were able to access up to 14 kgs of seed in exchange for the $8 vouchers, which would have purchased only 4 kg of commercial maize seed.
Both in Uganda and in Kenya, the innovative approaches to seed provision proved advantageous over more conventional seed programmes, in that they:
- Supported rather than undermined local seed systems
- Enabled farm families to access seed of preferred crops and varieties and of acceptable quality
- Were cost effective
- Were simple to implement, monitor and evaluate
- Could be planned and implemented in a short period of time
- Served the needs of large numbers of farm families experiencing difficulty accessing seed
For further information contact Annemarie Reilly - email address AReilly@crs-ert.or.ke
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Reference this page
CRS seed vouchers & fairs – an innovative approach to help farm communities recover from disaster. Field Exchange 15, April 2002. p21. www.ennonline.net/fex/15/crs