Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Seed Suppliers for Developing Countries

On this page, we will feature a number of suppliers who sell seeds to developing countries.

Seeds Of Kokopelli

A manual for the production of seeds
A directory of heritage seeds

This book is hard-cover, large size with 440 pages 88 pages in color : 457 color-pictures

This book presents for each vegetable or grain plant various general headings : botanical classification, history, nutrition, gardening advice. It then presents two headings linked to the reproduction of the plants, " pollination " and " seed production ", which set out in detail the different types of pollination, the nature of the plant (autogamous or allogamous), the required distances for isolation, the technique of producing the seed and advice relating to the cleaning, drying, sieving and storing of the seed. There is sometimes an additional heading "varietal creation" for the gardeners wishing to create their own varieties.

Seeds that Give: participatory plant breeding

A new book published by IDRC sheds light on the invaluable contribution small-scale farmers make throughout the world.

Seeds That Give

OTTAWA Genetic erosion makes the world's food supply more vulnerable to disease and sudden climatic change - this may be the price to pay for having successfully developed and widely used new high-yielding crop varieties over the last decades.

This paradox, and how it is being addressed by a novel plant breeding approach that takes into account the invaluable contribution of small farmers, is the topic of the book "Seeds that give: participatory plant breeding," published by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

"The threat of genetic erosion is real," says Ronnie Vernooy, author of the book and Senior Program Specialist at IDRC. "By continuing to support participatory plant breeding projects around the world, donor countries such as Canada are not only helping to reverse the process, they are improving the lives of millions of farmers who may hold the key to global food security."

For millions of small-scale farmers on marginal lands in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, the cost of high-yielding seeds, fertilizer, and other resources to grow them is prohibitive. Instead they continue to experiment with local seeds varieties, selecting and sharing those that will produce even under adverse conditions.

Today less than three percent of the 250,000 plant varieties available to agriculture are in use. A mere 12 species provide three-quarters of the world's plant-based food. This dependence on such a narrow genetic base threatens future food security. Ironically, this threat can only be overcome with the help of small farmers in remote areas of the world who have benefited little, if at all, from advances in plant breeding.

Proud Supporter of Urban Agriculture Notes.

"By encouraging collaboration between researchers and farmers, the participatory plant breeding approach is instrumental in the development of plant varieties that truly meet farmers' needs," explains Vernooy. "Farmers therefore become true participants in the research rather than mere recipients of top-down research that can contribute to genetic erosion."

Seeds that give is part of IDRC's In_Focus book series. It explores some of the issues surrounding the loss of agricultural biodiversity and reviews 10 years of IDRC support for participatory plant breeding research around the world. Complementing the book are six case studies in the developing world and a thematic Web site (

The book makes recommendations for action to ensure that participatory plant breeding efforts achieve the intended results. It also envisions what the situation could be like 10 years from now if stakeholders find the will and resources to implement those recommendations.

The book and case studies are available in print from IDRC. The full text is also online on IDRC's thematic Web site (, providing a virtual Web of resources on agro-biodiversity and participatory plant breeding. The book is available in English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. An Arab version is also being developed.

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is one of the world's leading institutions in the generation and application of new knowledge to meet the challenges of international development. For more than 30 years, IDRC has worked in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world in their search for the means to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.

Technisem Asia Pte Ltd
Stephane Gorin, General Manager
c/o Green Co.
81/10 B Ho Van Hue Street
Dist. Phu Nhuan, Ward 9
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Tel : (848) 8476901
Direct : (848) 8448897
Fax : (848) 8441392
e-mail office :
e-mail pers.:
e-mail pers.:

"Our Company is a French breeding company of tropical vegetables. We have a seed breeding company in Vietnam and a farm in Indonesia for high quality seed production. Some of our varieties provide outstanding performance for growing in the lowlands and highlands. For instance, we have bred tomato varieties that can be cultivated in the Mekong Delta under 45oC and heavy rains, so that the farmers can grow them all year round. We work on all kinds of vegetable crops, including Asian leafy vegetable.

"Our varieties are not genetically modified. Technisem started to work in Africa 20 years ago on improvement of local vegetables through "traditional" breeding work: better yields, higher disease and heat resistance, and so on. Six years ago, we started a program for South East Asia focussing on improvement of vegetables for tropical cultivation. We have our own breeding material but we also cooperate with several research organizations such as INRA (French Agriculture Research Center) and CIRAD (French International Agricultural Research and Development Center) for breeding and technical jobs. Today, Technisem Asia Pte Ltd proposes a wide range of varieties adapted to tropical Asian markets (lowlands and highlands). We produce extension seeds with good quality (purity and germination) on a large scale and supply them to the vegetable growers. In such a way, we have been able to increase the income of farmers by providing them with varieties that they can grow all year round, that are resistant to local diseases, and that can stand very high temperatures and provide a better quality of fresh produce.

"We publish literature in Vietnamese and Bahasa Indonesia (smilar to Malay) and we intend to publish them soon in Khmer (Cambodia) and Tagalog (Philippines)."

The Seed Search "The number 1 source book for seeds. Grow exactly what you want. Over 40 thousand seeds and where to buy them worldwide, you can now source from over 500 seed suppliers. Full details of suppliers included. Seeds of all types of flowering plants and over 7,500 vegetables. Some listings are extensive i.e. over 800 tomatoes, over 450 Eucalyptus."

The Seed Savers' Handbook

This is a complete reference for growing, preparing and conserving traditional varieties of food plants. It was written especially for Australian and New Zealand conditions in 1993 by Michel and Jude Fanton, founders of The Seed Savers' Network.

The Seed Savers' Handbook has 176 pages with stunning original black and white illustrations. To date, 20 000 copies have been sold. Jackie French writes in the Australian Womens' Weekly:

"The Seed Savers' Handbook explains how to collect seeds from 117 vegetables and herbs, and what varieties are best suited for where you live. It is impossible to praise the Handbook too highly. It gives clear instructions based on personal observation - not the standard and often vague or even incorrect material repeated from gardening book to gardening book."

ECHO's Seeds

One of ECHO's best-known programs is to send free, trial packets of seeds to overseas missionaries and development workers. ECHO's seedbank contains over 450 varieties of hard-to-find food plants, multi-purpose trees, fruit trees, and other tropical crops. These plants hold special potential for producing under difficult conditions—where it is too dry, too wet, or too hilly for most crops. Agricultural workers report on performance and acceptance of the plants. Successes and field experiences are shared with our network via ECHO Development Notes.

Seeds for Africa

"Seeds for Africa aims to help needy African families by the provision of vegetable seeds, agricultural equipment and relevant technical advice. Since it started in July 1998 the charity has purchased around 85 metric tonnes of vegetable seed in Africa."

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Revised June 17, 2006

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture