Seed Systems

This page includes technical resources and tools, case studies, learning documents, and more.

A woman crouches as she holds a woven plate with seeds on it.
Sean Sheridan / Mercy Corps


Seed aid is on the rise around the globe, in both emergency and non-emergency contexts. But what informs implementers’ decisions when selecting context-appropriate seed responses?  How can seed aid be more effective, premised on farmers’ preferences and needs while supporting market systems? 

Over the past five years, the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA)-funded SCALE Award has partnered with organizations such as SeedSystem and Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa (ISSD Africa) to develop and adapt a suite of learning materials, technical tools, case studies and capacity strengthening resources to support effective seed system interventions. These resources, featured below, can support your team to successfully implement quality seed system interventions. 

If you or your organization are interested in learning more about Seed Systems and the resources on this page, please contact SCALE (  

Technical Resources and Tools

Seed Systems in Conflict-affected Areas: Context Analysis Tool (CAT) (FR) 2022
This tool provides humanitarian actors working in conflict affected areas with an analysis process to understand seed systems in conflict settings. The CAT aims to help implementers design effective interventions to support and develop these seed systems, while ensuring that farming community members’ needs drive the seed system strengthening, recovery, and development process.

Seed Emergency Response Tool (SERT): Guidance For Practitioners (FR) 2022
This tool presents the background and concepts needed to understand how farmers in stress periods might obtain the seed they want and need, and synthesizes the growing body of ‘good or better practices’ linked to seed security planning, assessment, and response. It contains 10 core principles; decision trees for choosing a suitable intervention; checklists for evaluating responses; and reference materials for more technical detail. The SERT is for policymakers, program managers, and field staff engaged in emergency and early recovery agricultural responses.

Seeds Learning Group: Presentations and Recordings 2022
These recordings and presentations are from a four-week learning group conducted for BHA-funded implementers. Topics covered in the sessions include: seed system basics; introduction to seed system assessments (SSAs) and how to access and use existing tools, trainings, and other resources; common pitfalls related to assessments and responses, and how to avoid them; and BHA expectations around SSAs. 

Case Studies

Models for Strengthening Last Mile Seed Production and Distribution in Fragile Contexts (FR) 2022
These four cases offer inspiring examples of models for strengthening last mile seed production and distribution for better seed systems resilience in fragile environments. The cases provide examples from Burundi, Mozambique, Niger, and South Sudan of approaches to reach smallholder farmers, highlighting what works, what might best be dropped, and how to respond to various challenges.

Additional Seed Systems Resources

Seed System Assessments in BHA Programs | Challenges and Opportunities for Enhancing Uptake (FR) 2021
This document highlights challenges and opportunities to SSAs identified through consultations with technical advisors and program implementers, as well as BHA staff. This document includes a summary of BHA's observations of the gaps and shortfalls around SSA use at the application stage, the main barriers to SSA uptake and adoption as reported by implementing partners, and brief analysis of the process and key takeaways.

Webinar: Seed-Related Assistance in Fragile Contexts: Lessons for the COVID-19 Response 2021
This webinar offered a practical, farmer-centered conversation sharing key guidance and lessons for seed system interventions in the COVID-19 response. 

Logo for ISSD AfricaAbout ISSD Africa: Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa (ISSD Africa) is an international community of practice, guiding seed sector innovation and development on the African continent to alleviate the problem of limited access to quality seed.

Logo for Mercy CorpsAbout Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, Mercy Corps partners to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Logo for SeedSystemAbout SeedSystem: SeedSystem provides practical (‘how-to’) guidance and strategic thinking to help professionals design seed-related assistance for and with smallholder farmers. It aims to foster productive, resilient, and market-oriented seed systems, even in times of emergency and chronic stress.