Seed and Knowledge Initiative

This initiative will address food insecurity and environmental degradation by promoting crop diversification and environment-friendly approaches. It is implemented by a partnership of 15 community-based organizations and their regional partners. The emphasis of the final phase of Swiss funding is on advocacy and movement building, while expanding the number of smallholder farmers, including women and youth, who practice and spread agro-ecology and farmer-led seed systems.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Zambia and Zimbabwe
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural research
01.03.2023 - 28.02.2027
CHF  4’154’000
Background In Zambia and Zimbabwe, a significant share of smallholder farmers continue to be affected by food insecurity caused by environmental degradation and climate change amongst other factors. Crop diversification, with the use of droughttolerant  crops, improves farmers’ resilience to climate and environmental shocks. There is growing evidence on the effectiveness of crop diversification, agro-ecology and farmer-led seed system in rehabilitating ecosystems, contributing to biodiversity and sustainability, while supporting food security, nutrition and livelihoods. Climate-smart agriculture and crop diversification are on the agenda of the governments of both countries. However, more resources are needed for their expansion. Switzerland has become a prominent and trusted partner in the agro-ecology and seeds sector, and is thus well positioned to support this initiative.
Objectives By 2027, farming communities have improved food sovereignty through resilient farmer-led seed systems and more biodiverse and multifunctional landscapes.
Target groups

The primary target group are smallholder farmers and their households.

The secondary group are farmers’ associations and organisations, civil society organisations and policy makers at different levels, in particular those related to the Agriculture Ministry.

Medium-term outcomes

1)    Farmers empowered to practice, spread and advocate for agroecology and farmer-led seed systems in their communities, districts, and countries.

2)    Change makers are influenced by stronger movement for agroecology, farmer led seed systems and Farmers’ Rights.


Expected results:  

-    50’000 smallholders, including 25’000 women and 5’000 youth, practicing agroecology;

-    20’000 farmers access seed from seed exchanges and seed banks;

-    2000 smalholders, including 1’200 women and 200 youth, involved in advocacy campaigns;

-    10 advocacy campaigns coordinated (6 at national and 4 at regional level);

-    15 partner organisations and farmer organisations strengthened.

Results from previous phases:  

-    The food security of participating farming communities improved: The Household Dietary Diversity Index increased from 3 to 6.4 out of 8 food groups;

-    The number of smallholders applying agro-ecology expanded from 3’900 to 24’600, including 13’778 women and 3’474 youth;

-    The number of smallholders involved in seed exchanges and seed banks increased from 5’591 to 10’954;

-    147 recorded instances of supportive positions by decision makers for localized nutritious food and seed systems, agro-ecology and/or farmers rights;

-    The share of women in decision-making positions at community and partner levels grew from 54% to 61%.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
  • Foreign private sector South/East

Other partners
Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa
Coordination with other projects and actors

Swiss supported initiatives:

Strengthening Agrobiodiversity in Southern Africa, the Markets and Seeds Access project, the Integrated Seed Sector Development project, CROPS4HD, the African Union’s Initiative on Ecological Organic Agriculture and the African Seed and Biotechnology Program.

Other donors:

Members of the Team Europe Initiative on Climate Smart Agriculture in Zimbabwe, Trocaire and FCDO.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’154’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’329’600
Project phases Phase 3 01.03.2023 - 28.02.2027   (Current phase) Phase 1 01.08.2013 - 28.02.2019   (Completed)