Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pang Daeng Seed Swap Activity

In conjunction with the Hort CRSP Exploratory Grant (USAID supported) recently awarded to ECHO, Pennsylvania State and Mae Jo Universities, the first multi-community seed swap was held on January 27, 2011 at Pang Daeng Nawk community in Chiang Dao district (one hour north of Chiang Mai).

Held at the conclusion of the month-long Hort CRSP survey of household vegetable gardening and seed saving/sharing activities among four area communities, the seed swap event was attended by over 60 persons. Of 37 participants from three local communities, 21 persons brought 181 packets of seeds to share.

The most common varieties of seeds that were brought included various types of cucumber, long bean, eggplant, field beans, okra, winged bean and vegetable lablab. However, a few uncommon varieties showed up as well, including a very large type of lima bean and some grains such as job’s tear, sorghum and millet.

The ECHO Asia Seed Bank also distributed over 200 small sample packets of seeds.

One weakness of the seed swap was that the attendees were from communities that were not only nearby but of the same ethnic group (mainly Palaung).  Therefore, as a whole the participants did not encounter many “new” varieties. This resulted in less inter-community seed sharing than hoped. However, we believe that increased ethnic diversity and distance will lead to more “exchangeability” in future ECHO seed swap events.

By the end of the day, in addition to a nice lunch, not only a significant number of seeds were shared, but a lot of socializing took place. And we hope that our Palaung friends went home feeling even more encouraged and determined to continue to save and share seeds of their precious crops.

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