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USC Canada in Guatemala

The SoS program in Guatemala will build on our local partner organization’s work by focusing on seed security and supporting farmers in doing collective research on their farms. This support includes facilitating the creation of local agricultural research committees – or CIALs for short.

CIALs are groups of farmer-researchers who work together and with the larger network of CIALs to solve farming problems. They take on issues like poor soil, changing climate, and lack of water, learning to grow more, diverse food by implementing new, Earth-friendly techniques, breeding crop varieties well-suited to these growing conditions, and starting seed banks. Seed banks and grain storage systems come in particularly handy in times of food shortage. The CIALs have built-in policies to promote women’s empowerment and youth engagement.

With training and support from USC Canada and our SoS partner in Honduras – where we have been working with farmer-researcher groups since 2000 – farmers in the program area have embarked on creating eight CIALs. Advice from USC Canada's partner in Bolivia will also support a move toward organic production and marketing of potato seeds.

Our Local Partner: ASOCUCH

The Association of Organizations of the Cuchamatanes (Asociación de Organizaciones de los Cuchumatanes, ASOCUCH) is an association of indigenous farmers' cooperatives. It represents 13 coops, eight farmers' associations and 68 women's groups for a total of more than 9,000 members, most from Maya Indigenous communities. With 14 years of experience, ASOCUCH has a proven track record supporting food security at the community level. ASOCUCH supports marketing for the products its farmers produce and starting small businesses. The association helps its members adapt to climate change through programs like participatory plant breeding and agroforestry.

Where Do We Work?

During this first year of the Guatemala SoS program, we will work in 17 communities in the department of Huehuetenango. These communities were seen to have critical levels of food insecurity.

 

Core Work

Priorities for communities where we work include

  • finding agroecological solutions for farming on rough hillsides with poor soils
  • learning how to adapt their farming to climate change
  • building their seed supply (and the storage and banking systems to go with it)
  • preserving the area's biodiversity of maize and beans
  • increasing yields in all crops

Women's Leadership

Herlinda Matías is a young facilitator with the farmers' group Association of Buena Vista Campesinos in Forestry (Asociación de Campesinos Forestales de Buena Vista, ADECAF), a member of ASOCUCH. As part of her new role, she participated in women's leadership training to learn how to better support other women in community organizing. Around the world, women are often responsible for the work that goes into growing food and the care that goes into tending the land. But recognition of this doesn't always happen.

Herlinda Matias, a young woman, sits smiling between a man in a hat and another woman at a table. She is holding a pen in her hand and papers are spread out on the table in front of them.

Herlinda Matías (centre) in training. (Photo: ASOCUCH)

Through working with ASOCUCH, Herlinda is learning how to be a leader and a listener, so that women's voices are heard and their work is recognized.

ASOCUCH's policy for gender equity – which includes empowerment of rural and indigenous women – lists ways to help achieve the active participation of women in its network. This policy states that at least 40-50 per cent of leadership positions must be occupied by women and at least 20 per cent of the budget is allocated toward gender policy actions.

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Marisol Guillen Martínez (Photo: Beatriz Oliver/USC Canada)

USC Canada in Nicaragua

This is the first year of the Seeds of Survival program in Nicaragua. The SoS program supports farmers dealing with climate change and repeated droughts in the region, including a pronounced drought in 2015/16. We work with farmers to diversify and improve crops to withstand the challenging local conditions and provide for food security and income.

The SoS Program in Nicaragua is piloting local agricultural research committees (CIALs), as used successfully in Honduras, in five municipalities (Totogalpa, Palacaguina, Cusmapa, Somoto and San Lucas), in order to expand farmer participation and program reach. CIALs are groups of farmers who work together and with the larger network of CIALs to solve farming problems. They take on issues like poor soil, changing climate, and lack of water, learning to grow more, diverse food by implementing new, Earth-friendly techniques, breeding crop varieties well-suited to these growing conditions, and starting seed banks.

The SoS program seeks to strengthen community organizing to improve agricultural systems and seed supply, develop local micro-enterprises, and engage more rural women and youth.

Our Local Partner: FECODESA

Our partner, the Federation of Cooperatives for Development (Federación de Cooperativas para el Desarrollo, FECODESA) unifies 16 cooperative associations and unions, and one non-profit organization under a common banner. With more than 6,000 members from 144 grassroots coops, FECODESA assists its members in farm improvement, diversification and marketing. The team works with communities in a highly drought-prone area, called the Dry Corridor, to increase food security and income through participatory plant breeding, sustainable, Earth-friendly farming (agroecology) and cooperative marketing. 

Where Do We Work?

The SoS program will support and amplify our partner's work in 34 municipalities in the Madriz department, an area facing critical challenges due to climate change.

Core Work

  • Completed baseline study of the region's seed system (seed security assessment)
  • Creation of farmer-researcher groups (CIALs) with support from our Honduran partner, who has been using these farmer networks for more than a decade. CIALs will help farmers collectively tackle challenges.
  • Training for farmers in participatory plant breeding (PPB) and participatory varietal selection (PVS)
  • Development of drought-tolerant, early-to-harvest maize using PPB and PVS
  • Development of nutritious sorghum varieties that can be harvested sooner and can survive drought
  • Establishment of a network of community seed banks, each with seed cleaning and storage equipment

Self-Sufficiency through Diversification

In Cayantú, Totogalpa, the farm of Juan González, his son Daniel and their families, is now brimming with diversity. Coffee, vegetables, fruit trees and medicinal herbs are planted together, next to local maize and tortillero sorghum. They made these changes with support from FECODESA over the last few years and have a magnificently productive farm despite their region's regular drought. The key is trees, says Juan.

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Daniel González (Photo: Beatriz Oliver/USC Canada)

"By planting trees, there is water," he explains.

Now self-sufficient for most of their food and able to sell the surplus, Juan and Daniel are teaching their neighbours about the benefits of agroforestry, passing along both information and seedlings. They are adamant about the benefits of this approach: food security, firewood and an increased water supply.

The SoS program will build on this approach in this region which is suffering from climatic extremes and lack of regular precipitation causing crop failures and out migration.

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Juan González (Photo: Beatriz Oliver/USC Canada)

Catherine Mckenna

National and international policies on agriculture, environment and trade have a global impact on food security and farmers’ livelihoods. This is why a key area of work for USC Canada is championing farmers’ rights, food sovereignty and food system resilience, on the national and international stage.

USC Canada collaborates with a national and international network of civil society organizations engaged in advocating for food justice around the world. Our contribution aims to amplify the voices of our southern and Canadian partners by sharing the lessons we have learned from six decades of work with rural communities. Our direct experience in international development and seed security issues means our positions are grounded in the experiences of those who farm the land, protect biodiversity and seeds, and nourish the health of the ecosystems they depend on.

USC Canada supports our southern partners in their efforts to work with their governments to adopt approaches that are supportive of small-scale farmers. Whenever possible, we convene bilateral or multi-lateral policy dialogues that feature the expertise, knowledge and experience of the small-scale farmers who work with our Seeds of Survival program.

Globally, USC Canada is involved in several key multilateral bodies related to food and biodiversity. These include the Committee for World Food Security, the UN Biological Diversity Convention and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Agriculture. USC Canada staff and partners play leadership roles in the civil society mechanisms that interact with these institutions. The goal is to influence public policy to support small-scale farmers and to enlarge space for their voices to be at the decision-making table.

At home, USC Canada collaborates with civil society organizations working on food, agriculture and seed policy such as Food Secure Canada, the Food Security Policy Group and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, to address emerging policy issues. Activities include holding public events, featuring speakers from across the globe, public awareness campaigns and facilitating dialogue between Canadian politicians, policy-makers and civil society.

USC Canada’s policy work also includes research and knowledge sharing on food and agriculture to inform our policy positions.

Policy Papers and Publications

Growing Resilience: Submission to Canada's International Assistance Review | July 8, 2016

As a Canadian organization that has spent 70 years working in international development and about 30 years with farmers around the world, USC Canada wants Canada make food security and agriculture a top priority and invest in small-scale farmers, ecological agriculture, and human rights. Here is a policy brief identifying the main ways that Canada's international assistance review can accomplish this.

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The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security is USC Canada’s Seeds of Survival program in Canada. Launched in 2013 in five regional hubs across the country, the program works with farmers and researchers to build a more secure and diverse "made-in-Canada" seed supply. It features training, applied research, market development and support for expanded production and improved public access to seed.

With farmers and partners, we are building a national movement to conserve and advance seed biodiversity, keep seed in the public domain and promote ecological seed production.

The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security pursues three key areas of work, primarily directed at ecological seed producers and commercial farmers.

  1. Capacity building through training and networking
  2. Farmer-led research
  3. Biodiversity conservation

Why we care so much about seed

  • Nine out of every ten bites of food consumed around the world today begin with seed. Food security is seed security.
  • Canadians rely on only four plant species – wheat, maize, rice and potato – for 60 per cent of the calories in our diet.
  • Plant breeding can have a major impact on nutrition: In the last 60 years, the average Canadian potato lost 100 per cent of its vitamin A content, 57 per cent of its vitamin C and iron, and 28 per cent of calcium.
  • 95 per cent of the seeds that grow our major food crops are bred for uniformity, performance under controlled conditions and routine application of synthetic inputs.

As Canada’s climate changes, so must our approach to food production. Broadening the range of crops and varieties we grow, and investing in the development of varieties adapted to ecological farming and Canada’s diverse growing environments will increase the resilience of our agricultural system.

This program is made possible thanks to the vision and leadership of Gretchen Bauta, a member of the Weston family. It is delivered by USC Canada, in partnership with Seeds of Diversity Canada and through the generous support of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

Please explore The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security's website for more information.

SeedsOfSurvival

USC Canada’s work promotes vibrant family farms, strong rural communities and healthy ecosystems around the world, by focusing on activities that build food and livelihood security for small-scale farmers and preserve the agricultural biodiversity necessary to feeding a growing and changing planet.

Seeds of Survival (SoS) is the name of USC Canada’s core program working in partnerships with farming communities in 12 countries around the world:

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The first objective of SoS is to ensure a secure source of food and livelihood for small-scale farmers without losing the resource base essential for sustaining it. The second and equally important goal is to promote crop diversity.

This unique and award-winning approach embodies our values of rights, resilience and respect. It also rests on a systems perspective that recognizes the connections between our five thematic areas of work and the need to act on each of them to attain food sovereignty.

There are five key assumptions behind Seeds of Survival:

  1. Farmers are knowledgeable producers who, for a host of reasons including climate change, are finding it hard to maintain the diversity and innovation at the heart of their food security.
  2. Traditional local crop varieties are affordable, often nutritionally superior, and better adapted to challenging growing conditions than varieties not native to a region.
  3. Farmers are local experts and play as important a role in enhancing productivity as agricultural scientists.
  4. Conservation through use and plant selection is vital to protecting seed security and diversity and the survival of our planet’s biodiversity.
  5. Women and young people play a critical role in farming, and their contribution, both as farmers and leaders, must be valued if we are to achieve sustainable and vibrant rural economies.

Seeds of Survival stresses the importance of building upon small-scale farmers’ time-tested local knowledge and practices, limiting the need for external farming methods that are often incompatible with local growing conditions. A key component of the program is fostering collaborative relationships between farmers, scientists, governments and local NGO workers.

Our Ottawa-based program managers travel overseas as needed, but USC Canada does not send Canadians to work or volunteer in our program countries. We work through local independent partner organizations, or when that is not possible, through USC Canada employees hired locally.

Since the program’s start in 1989 in Ethiopia, Seeds of Survival has allowed USC Canada and the farmers, scientists and practitioners involved in the program to build a solid base of knowledge and expertise about agroecology and its application in various cultural and ecological contexts, including harsh and remote landscapes where people have little access to external resources.

Whenever possible, we encourage exchanges between participants from different countries so they can share their knowledge with each other and with a broader group of practitioners who can benefit from it.

Seeds of Survival is a global program with projects in 11 Global South countries. In 2013, USC Canada partnered with Seeds of Diversity Canada to bring the Seeds of Survival approach home to Canada, through The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.

Download our SoS pamphlet

Where We Work: At a Glance

Click on the country name to learn more!

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Timor Leste is a tiny half-island nation in the South Pacific. Slightly more than one million people live there, mostly in rural communities amid stunningly beautiful landscape. But it is not an easy place to live.

Though Timor Leste continues to suffer the after effects of a decades-long independence struggle with Indonesia (eventually succeeding with a vote for independence in 1999) it is a young country with enthusiasm for change, improvement and great pride in its short history.

While the country is now relatively stable, Timor Leste remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Forty per cent of the population lives in poverty.

Challenges

Timorese farmers traditionally practised shifting or swidden agriculture – burning and fallowing harvested fields and then moving to more favourable lands in valleys, along riverbanks or on level areas in the mountains. However, conflict and government resettlement policies have pushed farmers to adopt sedentary farming. Deforestation that happened during the years of conflict has had a long-term effect on watersheds and forest resources.

Most farming communities are on fragile lands affected by deforestation. Rice and maize, two of the most important staple crops, are often grown on steep, sloping lands that are highly vulnerable to degradation.

In recent years, Timorese farmers have seen dramatic changes in rainfall patterns that have made traditional practices and planting cycles unreliable. Genetic diversity within the major crops (rice, maize and beans) is limited leaving few options for managing these environmental challenges. In this humid, tropical climate, food losses during storage and in the field are an additional challenge. Improved, locally appropriate storage and pest management are key solutions.

USC Canada in Timor Leste

USC Canada's program in Timor Leste is transforming the landscape. In hillside communities, terracing is reducing soil erosion and improving soil fertility for both home gardening and crop production. Farmers are growing trees and shrubs as windbreaks and shelterbelts, while stall-feeding is helping to restrict animal grazing that would impede the regeneration of vegetation and soils. In coastal villages and upland communities, deforested and degraded hillsides are being restored with stone terraces and tree planting.

USC Canada's work in Timor Leste follows a watershed management approach, with the 18 participating communities strategically positioned around the Laclo River. Using techniques such as soil bunds and stream bank protection, farmers are restoring and enhancing the watershed, reducing erosion, flooding and water contamination.

This varied landscape is being used to grow a diversity of crops without encroaching on the natural forests and grasslands. As a result, participating communities are now reporting eating three meals a day or more, compared to the original baseline of one meal a day. USC Canada's program has been so successful in collaborating with academics, training agricultural workers and providing input into government programs and new seed policies and legislation that it has earned notice from the Timorese government and universities.

USC Canada's Local Partner: RAEBIA

USC Canada began its work in Timor Leste providing emergency funds to rural communities for food and shelter in 1997 and again in the aftermath of the tragic violence in 1999.

The program then shifted focus to sustainable agriculture, concentrating on sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity-based agriculture. Although a direct operational presence was necessary when USC Canada began its work in independent Timor Leste, the context has since changed dramatically. With our support, the once-USC Canada staff group in Timor Leste is now a local Timorese NGO called RAEBIA (derived from two words of the Timorese language Kemak, rae meaning land and bia meaning water and joined to stand for "Resilient Agriculture and Economy through Biodiversity in Action").

USC Canada has paid particular attention to the team's organizational development to ensure that RAEBIA not only has the skills and knowledge to monitor and assess progress but can access funding from sources other than USC Canada.

This video shows the USC Canada-Timor Leste relationship from a few years back before USC Canada's field office became independent:

 

Core Work: Diversifying Crops & Livelihoods

USC Canada's biodiversity-based program works with entire communities – women, men and youth – to increase food production, mitigate environmental degradation and improve economic opportunities.

In Timor Leste, home gardens provide food for both home consumption and market. We are working to diversify and enhance these home gardens by distributing a variety of seeds for different crops and by training farmers in vegetable and compost production. Crop diversity is not only improving nutrition for farmers and their families but also increasing the quantity, assortment and value of products farmers can sell in the marketplace.

The project is also providing farming families with opportunities to generate supplemental income through activities such as fish production and marketing, food processing and coffee production. Training in livestock breeding, stall construction, forage production, and veterinary care have encouraged animal husbandry and aquaculture.

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Janika Kumari of the Dudoli Villiage Forest Committee

Home to eight of the planet’s highest mountains, including Mount Everest, Nepal has intrigued travelers for centuries with its spellbinding geography and ancient cultures. From tropical savannahs along its southern Indian border to the dramatic rock and ice of the Himalayan mountains along China’s frontier, Nepal is a country of breathtaking diversity.

After a decade-long civil war that saw considerable loss of life and reduced access to food and basic services, Nepal became the world’s newest republic in 2008. Land ownership in Nepal has traditionally been concentrated in the hands of a few. Poor rural households, with limited access to land, cannot meet their food needs and, in some areas, have reached alarming levels of food insecurity.

Nepal-photo2-peppersChallenges

While Nepal’s agriculture boasts immense genetic diversity and farmer knowledge, years of introduced farming practices coupled with the steep fragile land of the mountain and hill areas have left these areas vulnerable to land degradation, deforestation and erosion. Once self-sufficient in food production, Nepal has become increasingly dependent on imports to meet food demands, making it exceedingly vulnerable to price shocks.

Increasingly, the best land closest to roads is being to grow crops for animal feed, and food for cities or export. As a result, the majority of Nepal’s farming households experience food deficits during the year. Income generating opportunities are also very limited in the rural areas; many men, especially young men, travel elsewhere to earn a living, leaving behind children and women, who suffer most from hunger and malnutrition.

USC Canada in Nepal

USC Canada has been working in Nepal since 1977. In 2007, USC Canada helped create three local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Today, USC Canada continues to work with local partners, most notably with Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research, and Development (LI-BIRD), and others, in the poor, remote, rural areas in the Middle Hills districts of Sarlahi and Makawanpur and the high Himalayan mountain district of Humla. In these areas, main concerns are coping with the challenging physical environment and adapting to changing weather patterns while trying to grow enough food on which to live.

In total, more than 10,000 people are participating in USC Canada's Seeds of Survival Nepal program, with another 5,000 households indirectly benefiting from the program.

Core Work

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USC Canada is working with its partners to support sustainable agricultural practices through organic farming, soil and watershed management, and biodiversity. The program also promotes the organization of farmers' groups and cooperatives to enhance farmers' livelihoods, as well as farmer-to-farmer exchanges.

All programming here is geared towards the long-term enhancement of food security and food sovereignty, with a focus on seed supply and diversity of plant genetic resources.

At the national level, USC Canada and its partners are working to influence high-level government policy on seeds, plant variety protection, and farmers' rights.

Our Partners in Nepal

USC Canada works with one core partner – Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research, and Development (LI-BIRD). With LI-BIRD, USC Canada supports four smaller local organizations: Parivartan Nepal in the hill district of Makawanpur, and Self-Help Initiative Program (SHIP) Nepal in the Himalayan mountain district of Humla, the Dalit Welfare Organization in the dry plains of Banke District, and the Machapuchhare Development Organization in the hills above Pokhara.

Where Do We Work?

USC Canada works in four regions of Nepal, each with a unique climate and difficulties.

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For more than a century, Honduras has been defined by its banana plantations and other monoculture cash crops produced for export. These commercial operations dominate the narrow but fertile coastal plains.

Honduras is also known for its beautiful but rugged mountain terrain that makes up 80 per cent of its territory and is also home to the majority of its people. Small-scale farmers must make their living from the poorer soils of these higher altitudes, where erosion and the effects of climate change are a constant battle. Yet these hillside farms are vital to the food security of Honduras’s rural poor.

Honduras holds great potential. It lies in a biodiversity hotspot, with many native crop varieties, especially of maize and beans. These plant genetic resources are critically important for adaptation to changing climate conditions and building resilience against pests and disease.

Challenges

The monoculture plantations of the coastal plains, owned by economic elite, produce a limited number of commercial crops and varieties. The commercial seed and plant breeders who supply them have long ignored the needs of Honduran hillside farmers and their relatively small market.

Living far from public services on the poorest quality land, small-scale farmers also tend to be excluded from government-sponsored plant breeding programs and resources. Over time, the diversity and hardiness of native crop varieties, most suitable for Honduran hillside farming, have been neglected.

With a long history of small-scale cultivation, farmers and communities harbour valuable local traditional knowledge of their crops, soils and ecosystems. But they need support.

USC Canada in Honduras

USC Canada works in three regions with more than 500 farmers in 51 communities, finding ways to overcome the challenges of hillside farming through agroecology. Our programs reach thousands more through seed exchanges and access to locally produced seed stocks.

Today, with USC Canada support, farmers are diversifying and growing more of their own locally adapted crop varieties of beans, maize and other vegetables. This agroecological approach is feeding families, improving nutrition and providing more secure livelihoods.

Participating farmers are constantly experimenting with indigenous varieties, adapting them to their needs such as better cooking and storage traits, greater productivity or higher nutrition. They have bred corn varieties with shorter, sturdier stalks, which are less vulnerable to increasingly extreme winds and rains. And they’re preserving precious soils – strengthening them through terracing, crop rotation, planting nitrogen fixing crops and making their own natural composts and pesticides.

Our Local Partner: FIPAH

The Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers (FIPAH) recognizes farmers as local experts and researchers whose knowledge is essential in the process of identifying problems and finding local solutions.

  • WATCH: A short documentary, Saving the Seed, to learn more about FIPAH's work. 
 

FIPAH helps small-scale farmers organize themselves into community-based agricultural research teams, known as CIALs, and partners them with the technical support of FIPAH agronomists. These efforts enable small-scale farmers to conserve a diversity of native seeds and enhance crop varieties that perform well in local conditions and strengthen the resilience of local food systems and farming communities.

As a result, the communities we work with have experienced a dramatic drop in the number of “hunger weeks” – when food runs out before the next harvest: from an average of five weeks a year down to about one week. By using an agroecological approach, these farmers have enhanced biodiversity and increased productivity of local corn varieties by 20-30 per cent, while making these varieties hardier and more adaptable to climate change.

Core Work: Farmer Research Teams (CIALs)

  1. On-farm conservation of farmer seed varieties
  2. Secure seed supply through seed reproduction and sale
  3. Participatory plant breeding
  4. Community-run seed and gene banks
  5. Cooperative grain storage systems
  • WATCH: The Story of the CIALs, for a brief look at the inner workings of the farmer research teams.

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Today, Cuba is recognized as a unique centre for organic, farmer-led agriculture. Since the early 1990s, the country has undergone a remarkable shift away from monoculture and accompanying carbon based pesticides and fertilizers. With the withdrawal of the Soviet Union at that time, Cuba was forced to explore a different approach to food production. So they began returning to the organic agricultural practices of an earlier generation.

This agroecological farming movement has supported farming cooperatives, land reforms and innovative practices like crop rotation and experimentation with indigenous seed varieties. Farmers began to build back what had once been lost – an agrobiodiverse and ecological food system resilient to climatic variability and environmental disasters. Small farmers went from being virtually ignored to becoming highly valued for their knowledge and practices.

Challenges

These small farmers have been key to revitalizing the island’s agriculture but they need more support to continue feeding the country.
The land reforms for new farmers have been steps in the right direction. Private farmer cooperatives and agroecological production now dominate the food production model but require continued support. Farmers need access to credit, services, seeds and tools.

USC Canada in Cuba

Since 2007 we have worked with our Cuban colleagues at the Program for Local Agricultural Innovation (PIAL) to support thousands of small farmers to organize, increase the availability of indigenous crop varieties and save and share seeds in communities across the island. The program estimates that it has spread seed diversity and security to over 50,000 rural farmers in Cuba.

The PIAL and USC Canada executed the successful second phase of the program from 2007-2012 with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, now DFATD). The PIAL is now in a third phase of the program and USC Canada continues collaborating with Cuba as a strategic partner.

USC Canada is currently working on a seed diversity management project to strengthen seed supply systems in three Cuban municipalities. The project includes action-learning on seed security issues and global farmer-to-farmer exchanges.

USC Canada’s Local Partner: The Program for Local Agricultural Innovation (PIAL) of the National Institute for Agrarian Science (INCA)

Since 2007, USC Canada has partnered with the PIAL of the Cuban National Institute for Agricultural Sciences on an innovative farmer-scientist research program that puts farmers in the driver’s seat. The program is based on an ecological approach to agriculture, respect for farmer knowledge and increasing agrobiodiversity.

The current program seeks to increase agricultural and food production by strengthening local innovation systems.

In 2010, PIAL founder and then coordinator, Dr. Humberto Rios, received the renowned American Goldman Environmental Award for the program’s pioneering work in introducing and expanding seed and crop diversity, participatory plant breeding and sustainable agricultural systems in Cuba.

Core work

  • Sustainable agricultural systems and agroecology
  • Participatory seed diffusion and plant breeding
  • On farm conservation of farmer seed varieties and seed banking
  • Secure seed supply through seed reproduction and diversity
  • Farmer-scientist collaboration
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Gender equality in agricultural biodiversity
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LottaHitschmanova tbnWhat's in a Name?

We’re called USC Canada because we started out way back in 1945 as the Unitarian Service Committee, founded by the energetic Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova. We’re still planting the seeds that Lotta sowed. Find out more about our founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova.

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  • Phone: 1-800-565-6872

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