In 2011, 2 seed-saving trainings were conducted in Doo Doh Hta village, Ler Mu Plaw village tract and Ye Mu Plaw village, Ye Mu Plaw village tract in Mu Traw District (with support from EBO). During the 3-day trainings, in addition to seed-saving techniques, participants also learned about climate change, natural disasters and the importance of community forests. Seed-saving committees were formed in each village as well as the surrounding villages. A total of 42 individuals (16 women, 26 men) participated in the trainings.
The same kind of training was replicated in another 5 one-day workshops conducted by two seed-saving trainees accompanied by the KESAN facilitator and a KAD staff member in 5 villages. A total of 170 (100 male and 70 female) attended the workshops.
Through the seed-saving networks, local villagers share and exchange seeds with each other. This is especially important during times of natural disasters when individual farmers may have lost or suffered damage to some of their crops. Seed-saving using traditional Karen seed-saving techniques ensures the availability and accessibility of seeds for the next cropping season and enhances communities’ resiliency and capacity to cope with natural disasters and/or forced relocation.
Local seed varieties that were saved and stored through KESAN’s seed-saving initiatives resulted in some of the surplus seeds being sold to the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) for use in the refugee camps. This year, 307 kg of seeds (30 different varieties) were distributed to five refugee camps (Mae Ra Ma Luang, Mae La, Mae La Oo, Nu Poh and Ee Htu Hta). The sale of these seeds to TBBC resulted in over 60,000 Thai Baht of income for local villagers. This amount was directly given to the villagers as income for their surplus seeds. In addition, the distribution of these seeds has the potential to increase the food security and nutrition for over 13,750 people in the camps.
“This year, I feel very happy because I received 1000 baht from my surplus seeds. I used this money to buy salt for the year for my family. Salt is very important for us and difficult to find locally. Normally, I would have to go and find work elsewhere as a porter or work on someone else’s farm or sell our own rice to make enough money to buy salt. But this year, I was able to buy salt by selling my extra seeds.” - Local woman from Ye Mu Plaw village tract who contributed seeds to the seed-saving network