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uruguay: helping family farms to recover disappearing seed varieties

Natural varieties of seed, adapted to Uruguay’s ecosystems, are being lost, especially because of the increasing global trend towards planting genetically modified organisms. This loss of locally-adapted crop varieties is undermining small-scale agricultural production and threatens Uruguay’s food sovereignty.

uruguay: helping family farms to recover disappearing seed varietieswhat happened?

Friends of the Earth Uruguay / REDES has been collaborating with other Uruguayan organizations to strengthen food security in Uruguay, by rescuing local seed varieties and promoting organic production, in order to provide safe and healthy locally-grown food for local communities and the domestic market.


FoE Uruguay’s Rescue and Revaluation of Native Varieties and Food Sovereignty programs focus on identifying, recovering and multiplying the seeds of native varieties of vegetables and other crops. Seedbed crops were then grown, and the seeds distributed to and exchanged amongst family farms. This project involved a collective effort to maintain the various seeds, and the creation of a network of 90 seed producers across the country.


what changed?

FoE Uruguay and their partners strengthened the role of family agriculture in Uruguay by recovering a wide range of natural and indigenous seeds in Uruguay. These local seeds include tomatoes (35 old varieties have been identified), maize (7 native varieties have been protected), potatoes, carrots, onions and various grains.


what next?

Since these seeds are adapted to the specific ecosystems in Uruguay, the best can be kept and will be planted next year. Thus a sustainable alternative to the dominant system of seed management will become an integral component of food sovereignty in Uruguay.


FoE Uruguay will continue to work with family farms, focusing on sharing organic crop and seed production techniques. Local producer groups will also be consolidated, regional exchanges encouraged, and the sale of locally-produced, nutritious foods promoted.


with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis)


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