African Indigenous Vegetable Seed Systems in Western Kenya

  • Lauren PincusEmail author
  • Marcia Croft
  • Ralph Roothaert
  • Thomas Dubois


African indigenous vegetable (AIV) production systems are often constrained by the availability of high-quality seed. Concerted efforts to improve the informal seed sector could increase farmers’ access to seed, but these efforts are hampered by a lack of knowledge around the quality of farmer-produced seed and seed growers’ motivations for producing seed. This study collected seed samples and survey data from 127 farmers in western Kenya on their AIV seed production practices, uses of AIV seed, and motivations for growing seed. Germination tests showed that seed quality varied significantly between species. Seed access was still a constraint, even though the majority of seeds used by farmers are self-produced. Income from selling AIV seed differed significantly depending on gender, with men earning more than twice as much as women. This study demonstrates that the constraints farmers face in accessing high-quality AIV seed can vary significantly between species and over short distances. Female seed producers are not necessarily empowered to earn equal income as men, despite AIVs traditionally being considered a women’s crop. This study speaks to the importance of using localized information to develop programs for improving informal seed systems and continuing to employ gender-sensitive and transformative activities.

Key Words

African indigenous vegetables Kenya informal seed systems 



We wish to acknowledge and thank the farmers who generously donated their time and seed resources to this research study. We also wish to thank the World Vegetable Center and Home Garden Scaling field staff for their time and commitment to this study. Lastly, we are indebted to the anonymous reviewers who offered valuable critiques and feedback and greatly improved the quality of this manuscript.

Funding Information

Financial support for this research was provided through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty International Center (FIC) in the form of a GloCal Fellowship awarded to the first author.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ResearcherKigaliRwanda
  2. 2.Catholic Relief ServicesBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.World Vegetable CenterArushaTanzania

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