Background of the organization:
USC Canada seeks to build food sovereignty by working with partners to enhance biodiversity, promote ecological food systems, and counter inequity. For over 30 years, USC Canada has worked with engaged Canadians and partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to support programs, training and policies that strengthen biodiversity, food sovereignty and the rights of those at the heart of resilient food systems – women, Indigenous peoples and small-scale farmers.
Launched in 2013, the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security at USC works with over 180 farmers and seed growers and 20 universities and research institutions to build a more secure and diverse seed supply. Activities focus on training, applied research, market development and support for expanded production and improved public access to seeds.
Sustainable agriculture will play an important role in the effort to transition to an equitable low-carbon economy; sowing a variety of crops can help us adapt to a changing climate. However, the research, production, markets and policy orientation of the dominant agriculture system still values uniformity over diversity. This drives research and development to highly profitable commodity crops, such as canola and corn, and away from less profitable ones that contribute to biodiversity.
By contrast, there is a growing global movement toward farmer-controlled seed diversity. ‘Participatory plant breeding’ brings researchers and farmers together to breed new crops tailored to local environments in line with sustainable farming practices.
This grant to USC Canada’s Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security aims to increase the number of farmers and researchers engaged in participatory plant breeding, remove regulatory barriers that narrow biodiversity and hamper sustainable farming, and develop advocacy campaigns to build awareness of the importance of seed security among farmers, policymakers and the public.