Global Seed Savers works on a grassroots level to help return farmers to the collective indigenous knowledge and practice of seed saving. Through encouraging smallholder farmers in the Philippines to return to the practice of growing and saving their own seeds, we are providing farmers with the tools and support needed to be independent, self-sustainable, and to restore sovereignty over their food system and their lives. We do this through our comprehensive programs - technical and educational training, seed saving and establishing seed libraries, and encouraging organic and sustainable farming practices.
What started with a core group of seven farmers has grown into an official farmers association, the Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS) now with 20 active members and growing. Our model is also spreading to Cebu as we launch the Cebu Seed Savers and build this nationwide and world connected movement to restore food sovereignty and ensure farmers access to locally produced seeds.
Since 2015, we have:
Conducted over 5,000 hours of technical training programs.
Trained over 2,000 farmers in seed saving and agroecology practices, across eight regions of the Philippines.
Directly founded two seed libraries and influenced the creation of two others that are being locally led.
We know our model works and are ready to see it expand!
Why the Philippines?
The Philippines is the fourth most climate-vulnerable nation and Southeast Asia’s largest producer of GMO crops with 70% of the country dedicated to agricultural land. Because of this, we believe the work and models being developed in the Philippines are of the utmost importance. The ability to impact the agricultural system and relinquish smallholder farmers’ dependence on large bio-chemical agricultural companies and helping farmers to prevent further catastrophic damage from our changing climate is paramount. Climatic realities like Typhoon Mangkhut that hit the Northern Philippines last September, demonstrate the need to change and implement more sustainable farming practices.
When Typhoon Mangkhut arrived in September 2018, all of our founding farmers at the Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS) were impacted by the storm. One BASS Farmer, Elizabeth Martin lost everything in the typhoon. Elizabeth and her extended family lived in three small houses on the roadside in Ucab, Itogon, Benguet, a place that had been in her family for many generations. Typhoon Mangkhut ravaged the region and her home and land were literally washed away with everything they owned.
Elizabeth shared, "I remember clearly how I felt after typhoon Mangkhut. I remember how my friends from BASS and GSS were the first to ask how I was. I remember feeling like I was important and that I was part of a family—even after I lost everything. It really was a big help that I knew there were people who cared for me."
Thanks to our founding seed library, just days after the storm she and our other farmers were all able to access seeds and begin replanting right away. She has demonstrated the true spirit of resilience and has since rebuilt her life and is a proud member of the Benguet Association of Seed Savers.
In fact, Elizabeth joined our team as the Benguet Association of Seed Savers Field Coordinator earlier this year! In this role she is using her skills as an organic farming inspector to help monitor BASS farmers seed production and collect important data from the field that will help inform the launching of seed sales.
Elizabeth said, " When I first joined BASS, I wasn’t expecting to be welcomed like I was. I made new friends, I learned to save seeds. From the very beginning, I felt a sense of belonging. I felt like I was appreciated and was part of a group who really understood the value of seed saving. I realized how integral seed saving is in organic agriculture. Because I was so used to buying from farm supplies, I didn’t think about whether the seeds I was using were chemically treated or not. Now, I understand that the first step in practicing organic farming is really having safe, non-chemically treated, organically grown seeds.”
Call to Action
Join us as we continue our growth and ensure climate resilience and food and seed sovereignty for more farmers. Help us reach our $12,000 goal by the end of June!