Save your seeds and feed the world

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on November 19, 2009 14 Comments
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Save your seeds and help end hunger

Save your seeds and help end hunger

Do you eat fruit and vegetables?
What do you normally do with the seeds?
Would you save those seeds to benefit a small African Village?

Our guest post this week comes from Safia Soliman.

Inspired by the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals [MDG’s] – to reduce / remove hunger and therefore poverty, globally, Safia has set up a Seed Savers project.

Seed Savers, sends seeds from the fruit and vegetables we eat to Africa as part of an effort to improve food security for and reduce the hunger of needy, rural communities – in accordance with Millennium Development Goals.

I have to admit I had lots of questions when I heard about Safia: Could sending seeds from our UK food really be of benefit to African families? It would appear they can …

“When a pebble is tossed into the sea, a river or a lake – ripples spread far and wide. We don’t know what we might achieve, unless we try – so try, we did.

In most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, a great many seeds from the kinds of foods eaten here, thrive very well and DO produce food. I have pictures of rural communities growing Butternut Squash, Oranges, Apples, Bell & other Peppers, Tomatoes, Cucumbers – in fact most things. Generally, Brasicas don’t thrive quite so well though.

With access to a wonderful institute – ICEPE in Kenya – expert, holistic/organic advice and solutions to most difficulties support any rural community in Africa, regarding rural food security. Many of the problems experienced are less to do with the climates and more to do with the huge numbers of borers and other pests. ICEPE is able to advise on successful solutions they have developed over a great many years, from naturally occurring plants – that are suitable in eradicating such pests NATURALLY and without the use of harmful chemicals.

With careful nurturing and (as they always say) regular prayers, they are managing. It will take a few more years for them to be ‘home and dry’ as they have suffered some 23 years of barbaric bush war, kidnapping of children (for purposes I am not going to enter into here) so those we support there, are those children who survived and literally walked home as adults. This was where a high profile entertainer, who ‘walked around rural Africa’, cried!

Money was sent with a volunteer who went out to Uganda for 2 months, to buy a pair of goats – in the hope that they will produce kids and become the nucleus of a herd that will provide milk for children. Goat’s milk is safer for hungry / starving people. Cows milk can and frequently does, escalate their deterioration (it’s too rich for the shrunken, hungry stomach).

We now urgently seek some MALE gender date stones/seeds, to scatter in between all the many female stones/seeds for pollination to occur and for the palms to produce dates. The date palm is an excellent plant (which is sometimes referred to as being a tree – but is actually quite different) which sends down very strong, long, sucker roots that just keep travelling until they find water and then flourish. This is a great way to stem desertification and anchor soil (even top sand in deserts) so that other food crops can be grown amongst them.

I am thrilled when anyone responds positively to SEED SAVERS appeals – it is such a natural solution to one part of the absolute needs of so very many.

To do anything lawful, that feeds starving people, is a great charity, and shows we are still compassionate towards each other. When global societies are able to care about and for each other – we are on the first step of a stable ladder, that could lead eventually to a more peaceful and respecting global populous and therefore a productive world.

It is also worth noting here, that when people are hungry and sick, all the medicines in the world will not help them. For bodies which are empty and starving, cannot utilise medicaments. The medicines merely cause terrible bouts of gastric emissions and often result in death. Some 85% of Africans live rurally and most villagers have no access to doctors or hospitals.

Bukoggolwa’s nearest hospital and doctors is a 12 kilometre walk away. When people are sick and emaciated they just cannot walk that distance – so they lie down and wait…………….to either live – or die! And this – in the 21st century, in a part of the world which is home to some of the world’s largest fresh water lakes and rivers! But this is yet another story ……………… ”

If you are interested in helping save seeds for Africa, you can contact Safia on 07792-234-913


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (14)

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  1. nadine Sellers says:

    There is nothing more basic than seed sharing, this is easy, clean, lightweight and inexpensive.
    anyone can save an orange seed, an apple or pear, a squash seed and let it grow in the heart of hungry ones somewhere. thank you.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    @nadine Sellers: Hi Nadine, lovely to see you again – are you well? You’re right; it seems such a simple, yet profound act and something I’d never thought of before – Safia has opened my eyes for sure 🙂

  3. I am also surprised to hear that seeds could thrive when sent to far – but this sounds like a great idea. To be quite honest with you, I never even gave a second thought to the seeds I throw away! This article has also certainly made me think more about how much I waste, too.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Ruth – Green Health Expert: Hi Ruth, it is an amazing thought, isn’t it. I had contact from Safia yesterday who told me that they have received 3 enormous boxes of male date stones. Also, their story is going to be feature in Permaculture magazine, which should give them some wonderful coverage 🙂

  5. thanks for posting this – it’s such a good idea and so simple. I shall have a rummage and see what I have that may grow well for them. Nic x

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @nic @ nipitinthebud: Hi Nic, glad you like the idea and thanks for leaving a comment. Let us know if you find anything suitable to send!

  7. I wonder if my runner bean seeds could be put to good use here. I have more than I’ll be needing next year. It’s a great idea 🙂

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Almost Mrs Average: Do contact Safia and ask her. I spoke to her today on the phone – what a woman! She is one of those who encompasses all that is good about the human spirit. I felt so inspired after talking to her – she has been serving others for 45 years, rescuing children from Africa and doing all sorts of things to improve life for others. Call her and see what she says about the seeds; I’m sure she would welcome a call from you 🙂

  9. Sandie says:

    I have a heap of Rocket seeds and will shortly be harvesting a mountain of Flat Leaf Italian Parsley seed.

    Mrs Green, please could you advise if I can send them direct to where they are needed, as I’m in Australia?

  10. Sandie says:

    I have an address to send the seeds:

    Dear Sandie,

    Sincere thanks for the nice offer. You are right, why should your seeds first come to Belgium and then be shipped to India ? I hope you will be successful and I will insist on receiving a short note on the results of the vegetable growth.

    Please send your seeds to :

    The Director of SCAD-KVK
    Alayamkottai Road Vagaikulam
    628102 THOOTHUKUDI
    Tamil Nadu


    May I suggest to add a short note to the seeds, explaining how you got the projects’ address and why you send the seeds within the framework of our action “SEEDS FOR FOOD” (

    Warm regards,

    Prof. Van Cotthem


    Professor Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM

    Beeweg 36

    B-9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium)

    Tél. +32 9 356 86 16

    e-mail : [email protected]

    SEEDS FOR FOOD web page:

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Sandie: Sandie, thank you so much for sharing this important information with us. It’s great that you want to help and have found a solution to posting your seeds. I don’t think this is part of the same scheme, so it’s great to see you have found another worthwhile venture to support.

  12. Sandie says:

    Today I saved the seeds from two capsicum. These seeds have been rinsed and are drying on a piece of loo roll before being posted to India (for those of you in Europe it is best to send them to Belgium for onward transportation to wherever Professor Van Cottham thinks best suited):

    I will be saving the seeds from our next pumpkin, chilli, avocado and tomato. Does anyone have ideas for other seeds that I could save and send from our everyday foods?

    If anyone is concerned about the bio-hazard or potential invasive problems of sending seeds to another country, here are a few words from Professor Van Cottham:

    ” It is interesting to see that a number of people have questions concerning the possible invasive nature of some vegetables or fruits.

    To the best of my knowledge there are no invasive vegetables. And if there are, I would like to know them. My logic says : if one or another “foreign” vegetable invades a new area where it is cultivated, no harm would be done because more vegetables would mean more food. Would people really mind such an invasive vegetable to spread easily, in particular the rural people in the drylands ? Suppose a variety of tomato, parsley, onion, beetroot, carrot, orange, lemon, avocado, papaya, etc. would invade a desertlike area or a rural area in a Sahel country. Would people really mind ? Would such a variety be an ecological catastrophe or would the local population appreciate the proliferation of that new kind of “free fresh food”.

    I would like to know the views of other people about this “problem”. ” (Professor Van Cotthem)

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Sandie: Hi Sandie, thanks for sharing the correspondence between you and Professor Van Cotthem with us. I must admit my first thoughts were more of foods NOT surviving in a different climate rather than things taking over invasively.

    I guess potatoes could be a problem; you only need a tiny piece in the ground to get a new plant the following year. This can be seen as a blessing, but if you get problems with the crop it can be disastrous. Likewise tomatoes; you don’t want to be spreading blight around the place. But I guess blight is not going to happen in a dry climate.

    But yes, you would think that food growing in the wild would be a wonderful thing!

  14. Sandie says:

    Yes, I had my concerns about disease and pest, until I contacted Professor Van Cottham.

    I think that sending just the seeds is okay. It would not be until the plants grew that they would be vulnerable to disease and pests.

    The address we have been given in India is an Agricultural Research Institute, so I am guessing they are testing for just these problems.

    I am unsure about potatoes. If anyone was thinking of sending seed potatoes, it would probably be best to contact Professor Van Cottham first.

    Thank you for the continued interest in this special project.

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