Seed Programs International

November 14, 2019

Katie Sinn, Program Assistant, Seed Programs International

Seed Programs International (SPI) is a nonprofit organization based out of Asheville, North Carolina that facilitates access to good quality seed, expertise, and training materials to humanitarian organizations working around the world to alleviate hunger and poverty.

When we enter into a partnership with a humanitarian organization, our partner’s goals become our goals where they can align with our mission. We rely on their expertise to facilitate a relationship between us and their communities, and to ensure that the decision-making for our programs is directed from within those communities.

These projects are accomplished by people working in a specific social and environmental context. Because we rely on our partners to lead projects in collaboration with their farming communities, we also strive to understand the contexts in which they work. Many partners incorporate microenterprise approaches, voucher programs (for seeds, tools, and training), and/or support for utilizing vegetables through cooking, sale, or storage/preservation.

We believe that by providing people throughout the world good seed and needed training to grow food we can help accomplish the following:

  • Reduce hunger.
  • Improve nutrition by having people grow vegetables rich in micronutrients that are otherwise missing from diets. These vitamins and minerals are essential for prenatal health, safe childbirth, child development, productivity, and long life.
  • Grow livelihood. As you know if you’ve ever grown a garden, with success comes more food than you can eat. Seed recipients sell excess crops to pay for kids’ school fees, medicines, clothing, safe shelter, and other needs.
  • Help people help themselves to reduce their dependence on donated food.
  • Provide skills that can be useful for a lifetime. This is especially true when children are taught to grow food.

In its 21 years, Seed Programs International has worked with more than 200 partner organizations in 75 countries around the world. These include everything from small school projects in which one or more schools are sent seed packets to establish a modest garden, to major crisis recovery efforts, and to medical relief providers who value nutritious food for care recipients.

Through our approach we know we are:

  • Careful to not undermine local commerce. In many remote areas of the world, vegetable seed distribution systems simply do not exist. Often vegetable seed available to the very poor is of marginal or poor quality. When local seed does exist, we work with partners over time to connect local populations to local seed suppliers.
  • A cost effective way to help in maximizing use of limited funds available to help those isolated by poverty – costly shipment of bulk food is reduced and those receiving seed perform the work necessary to produce food.
  • Not sending expensive staff and trainers to live or teach thousands of miles away from our headquarters. Instead, we believe in the power of local leadership and provide seeds and expertise as a means to foster that leadership.
  • Widely adaptable and can help people of all ages in communities large and small in tropical, temperate, as well as cool climates.
  • Helping disadvantaged people long term. Once skills are learned they can be used for a lifetime.

SPI is grateful to be a part of the Alliance to End Hunger. All SPI seed varieties are highly nutritious vegetables which have been chosen specifically for their usefulness in feeding the malnourished in a sustainable way. We hope to not only learn from others, but find collaboration with partners for our programs worldwide – further expanding our network of knowledge and expertise.