The AASD will provide organic seeds and seedlings directly to 10 indigenous, small-holder farmer communities in the high-altitude region of Cusco, Peru. The COVID-19 crisis has left vulnerable, isolated indigenous communities with little or no access to markets to buy the vegetable seeds and plants critical to both nutrition and farm profitability. Without improved access to seeds/plants, farmers will leave valuable land uncultivated and risk nutritional deficiencies for the entire household.
National policy in response to COVID-19 has restricted movement between communities and population hubs, like Cusco, and has cut market hours by 50%. Many of the communities have self-imposed even stricter policies that leave them in virtually complete isolation, as their geographic locations require long journeys, often on foot, to reach markets and larger towns. Once in town, the hybrid seeds and plants sold in the markets often produce weak yields and sterile seeds.
The AASD will manage a seed and seedling distribution system with a focus on resilience for the future. We will use our contacts developed over a decade of work in communities to provide locally-sourced, organic seeds and seedlings to farmers in addition to information on seed saving for the future. By facilitating seed saving, we ensure that even isolation and/or seclusion does not disrupt the crucial planting cycle necessary for subsistence and trading within the local economies.
Not only will the seeds and seedlings solve the immediate problem, but seed saving will ensure that it never happens again. Seed saving is a sustainable, shock-resistant solution to the seed shortage, but it requires non-hybrid seeds and plants. Additionally, by locally sourcing the seeds and seedlings, we support a sustainable local economy and ensure that the plants are already adapted to local growing conditions.