The primary objective of ACCESS is to generate research-based knowledge and innovations for seed security for humanitarian and long-term agricultural development in Malawi, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Seeds are entangled in the ecological, social, cultural and economic fabric of rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa. Seeds underpin food security and play a fundamental role in efforts to make food systems more sustainable. At the same time, seeds are 'big business' in economic terms. Tension between the social and economic aspects of seed is the reason for many 'seed struggles' around the world. Behind the controversies over ownership and breeding technologies, what is it that actually determines farmers’ and food systems’ 'seed security'?
The primary objective is addressed through four secondary objectives:
ACCESS takes a transdisciplinary approach. The project is carried out by an international and multidisciplinary research group with researchers from crop science, economics, political science, development studies and law and engages with seed system actors to co-produce institutional innovations.
Understanding seed use
The diversity of crop species and varieties is the biological basis for our food systems. For this diversity to contribute to food security, it must be accessible to those growing the food – farmers must be seed secure. This project (ACCESS) seeks to understand and strengthen farmers’ access to preferred and well-adapted crop varieties.
Instead of starting from a standpoint of assumptions on what types of seeds are best, ACCESS puts farmers’ livelihoods and preferences at the centre of the analysis. The project will generate research-based knowledge and innovations for seed security as well as humanitarian and agricultural development in three African countries: Malawi, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The project team will use a combination of nationally representative survey analyses, individual household (micro-level) studies and choice experiments to understand how seed is used and the preferences of farmers regarding seeds.
The quantitative analysis will be contextualized by research on the political economy and legal frameworks that affect farmers regarding their access to seed. Business development and job creation opportunities related to seed system development will also be analysed.
Seed system innovation
ACCESS will yield solid empirical knowledge about farmers’ needs, challenges and preferences when it comes to seeds and thereby contribute to better seed-related development policy and practice.
Incorporating the knowledge generated, the team aims to participate in the co-production of seed system innovation, together with strategic national and international actors, with the objective of seed security.
The ACCESS team works with a range of Norwegian actors to promote Access to Seeds and Seed Security as a game-changer proposal in the process leading up to the Food System Summit 2021 organized by the UN. This is a dynamic process involving a range of meetings, evolving proposal documents and presentations. This involvement is part of the co-production of knowledge and innovation for seed system interventions, one of the objectives of ACCESS.
4 May 2021Ola Westengen was invited speaker at the Public Forum 4 for Food Systems Summit Action Track 1: Ensure Access to Safe and Nutritious Food for All:
The video is published on the website of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.
25 March 2021Gener, makt og mangfold - et webinar om matsikkerhet (Genes, power and diversity - a webinar on food security). Ola Westengen was invited speaker at this event, organised by the Development Fund, Norwegian Rural Youth (Norges Bygdeungdomslag), Spire and GMO-nettverket.
8 December 2020Through war, wildfire and pandemic, the world’s seed vaults hold strong.Ola Westengen interviewed by Mongabay, a website publishing news on environmental science, energy and green design.
26 November 2020Interview with Ola Westengen on national Norwegian radio programme NRK Ekko. Westengen speaks about seeds and genetic resources in relation to an article he co-authored in Nature Plants.
17 November 2020These Rare Seeds Escaped Syria's War—to Help Feed the World. Ola Westengen interviewed by Wired magazine.10 November 2020Saving Syria's seed bank. Ola Westengen interviewed in Nature Middle East.
10 November 2020Out of Syria.Blog post in the Nature Ecology and Evolution Blog written by Ola Westengen to accompany an article he co-authored in Nature Plants. 25 February 2020Ola Westengen contributed as expert advisor to a high-level meeting of the UN Secretary General’s Advocacy Group for the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting focused on the links between SDG target 2.5 on maintaining genetic diversity and the wider 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The meeting, held in Longyearbyen in Svalbard, led to the launch of the Arctic Call to Action on Food Security and Climate Change. 14 November 2019Book launch. The book Farmers and Plant Breeding (Routledge 2020) was launched at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) headquarters in Rome. The book brings together experiences in farmer–breeder collaborative plant breeding from around the world. The book is edited by Ola T. Westengen and Tone Winge. The launch took place during the meeting of the parties (Governing Body) to the Plant Treaty. More about the book.22 August 2019In line with the co-innovation objective of ACCESS, Ola Westengen moderated a seminar between representatives from ministries, NGOs and academia on Norway’s official development assistance to conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources. The meeting was held at Norad.
Jakobsen J & Westengen OT (2021). The imperial maize assemblage: maize dialectics in Malawi and India. Journal of Peasant Studies, pp.1-25.
Mulesa TH, Dalle SP, Makate C, Haug R & Westengen OT (2021). Pluralistic Seed System Development: A Path to Seed Security? Agronomy 11(2), 372.
Westengen OT, Lusty C, Yazbek M, Amri A & Asdal Å (2020). Safeguarding a global seed heritage from Syria to Svalbard. Nature Plants 6 (11), 1311-1317.
Dalle SD & Westengen OT (2020) Seed security in theory and practice: A comparative study of seed security frameworks and their use. Noragric Report No. 86. ISSN: 1892-8102.
Westengen OT (2020) Gener – en fellesressurs? Klassekampen, 3 September 2020.
Westengen OT (2020) What happens with access to seeds in times of crisis? A popular science article on ACCESS in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic published in the Norwegian daily, Aftenposten.
Westentgen OT & Winge T (eds) (2020) Farmers and Plant Breeding - Current Approaches and Perspectives. London. Routledge.
Westengen OT, Haug R, Guthiga P & Macharia EJF (2019) Governing seeds in East Africa in the face of climate change: Assessing political and social outcomes. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 3:53
Vansant E. (2019) Beyond Blanket Solutions: Examining the Potential of Community Seed Banks to Improve Maize Seed Security in Northern Malawi. NMBU
Bram de JongeWageningen University, Netherlands
This project is funded by NORGLOBAL2 program of the Research Council of Norway.
Click above to findspecific contact info.