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Seed Vouchers and Fairs: A Manual for Seed-Based Agricultural Recovery after Disaster in Africa

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) | Overseas Development Institute (ODI) | International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
Year Published:
Resource Type:
Tools & Manuals

The idea for this manual evolved during the course of field research in northern Uganda and southern Sudan undertaken by a team from CRS, ICRISAT, and ODI. Both regions are affected by chronic disaster primarily from civil conflict, and in some years compounded by drought. Free distribution of seeds and tools to assist in agricultural rehabilitation has been widely implemented in many places and over multiple seasons, but discussions with field staff implementing these programs and with beneficiaries indicated that the implementation of these programs had become somewhat ritualized.

This manual describes a new approach to post-emergency seed distribution in Africa, where farmers receive not free seed but vouchers that can be exchanged for seed at a specially organized seed fair. Seed fairs rely on commercial seed firms (where they are in operation), as well as local seed producers and traders. This approach allows farmers to choose what crops/ varieties and quantities they want. It also provides an overview of seed systems and their components, and describes how to plan and implement the seed voucher/seed fair approach. The examples quoted are from southern Sudan, but the approach can be adapted for use in other disaster-affected areas as well.

This manual aims to inform field-based staff about seed systems and the impacts of disaster (Part 1). It also provides detailed instructions on how to plan and implement a seed fair (Part 2). This format was adopted because CRS, which pioneered the seed fair approach, wanted to avoid a situation where seed fairs become institutionalized – as ‘Seeds and Tools’ distribution has become in many disaster recovery situations.