The Future of Food: Seeds of Resilience



Introduction to the Commentaries

Since fall 2015, members of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, which is made of up philanthropic foundations working in various regions of the world, have been exploring how we might collectively strengthen community based and farmer led efforts to protect and promote seed biodiversity. Given the complexity of the issues involved, we decided from the outset of the process to request input from diverse and divergent perspectives to help guide our decision-making. We started by commissioning an opportunities report from two well-known experts on the topic with broad experience at the international level. We then sent the report to experts in the field from diverse sectors and regions. The majority of experts asked to contribute to this compendium are farmers or scientists who support community based approaches to agricultural biodiversity conservation. We asked these experts to share with us, from their own experience, what they see as the best ways to strengthen community based and farmer managed seed systems, and how funders can contribute effectively to these efforts.

The commentaries are structured in response to three key questions:

  1. What are the best ways that you know of to protect and strengthen community based seed systems?
  2. Beyond lack of funding, what do you see as the blockages/barriers that get in the way of success?
  3. Where do you think that funders can intervene for greatest impact in the area of seed systems?

We also encouraged commentators to choose from the following questions to address, based on whichever are within their realm of experience and expertise:

  • What examples of success have you seen in community based seed systems that you feel could be examples for others to learn from, and why?
  • How can researchers and farmers work together constructively to promote seed diversity?
  • What role do you see public health institutions playing, if any, in promoting seed diversity as a component of community health and nutrition?
  • How do you feel institutions might learn from Indigenous and traditional cultures in regard to the central role of seed to promoting cultural resilience and spiritual health?
  • Do you see a role for policy advocacy in regards to promoting community based seed systems? If so, why? At what level should funders support advocacy in this regard?
  • What do you think large development agencies and government institutions should be doing to promote community based seed systems?

Their responses are as rich and diverse as we could have hoped. They represent the beginning of what we hope is an ongoing conversation on the crucial issue of agricultural biodiversity. We share the commentaries here in their entirety. We have also summarized the key points in our Synthesis of Findings and in the Summary of Recommendations from Contributors.