Seeds are entangled in the ecological, social, cultural and economic fabric of our lives. 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'. Tension between the ecological, socio-cultural and economic aspects of seed is at the heart of 'seed struggles' around the world.
The Seed System Lab is a multi- and interdisciplinary research group at NMBU's Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric) working on themes related to crop diversity, seed system development and seed security.
What is crop diversity, seed systems and seed security?
Crop diversity is the diversity of species and varieties of cultivated plants that has co-evolved and spread within and between farming communities around the world. Seed systems are understood as the actors, activities, and institutions involved in the maintenance of crop diversity, plant breeding and selection, seed production and dissemination. In short, they are the systems that make seed available to farmers. In theory, a well-functioning seed system will ensure seed security for all farmers, i.e., that “men and women within the household have sufficient access to adequate quantities of good quality seed and planting materials of preferred crop varieties at all times in both good and bad cropping seasons” (FAO 2016)
In the article Navigating toward resilient and inclusive seed systems, we outline a perspective on seed systems which draws on many strands of research, from crop science to social science.
NMBU's Seed System Lab researches seed systems across geographical scales from the local to the national and global level. We research the different functions of seed systems from conservation and development (and evolution) of varieties to seed production and dissemination. We research these functions in the context of the multi-layered governance regimes they are part of as well as in the broader food systems they are part of. We also do research on seed system outcomes in terms of seed security as well as ‘higher order’ outcomes such as food security and food system sustainability.
No single discipline can grasp seed systems in their entirety. In the Seed System Lab, we have members and associates with different disciplinary backgrounds; crop science, agroecology, ethnobotany, anthropology, political ecology, political economy, development studies and economics. We work with research partners from other fields and faculties at NMBU and at other universities. We engage in co-production of seed system knowledge and innovation with stakeholders outside academia, including farmer organizations, civil society organizations and public institutions in the seed systems.
Our objective is to deliver:
1) Cutting edge academic research
2) Analyses of high value for policy and practice
3) Education and knowledge for students and professionals in public and private organizations involved in seed system development
The Seed System Lab welcomes new students and collaborations - we encourage those interested to contact us.
Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development: Genebanks and Seed Systems
Access to seeds: From emergencies to seed system development
Seed System Toolkit
Tools for characterizing and analyzing seed systems
Sustainable Food Systems
The Seed System Lab is part of this NMBU cross-faculty Sustainability Arena
- Agroecology and Development EDS352
Runs every spring semester.
- Governance of Plant Genetic Resources and Seeds: Laws, Policies and Practices EDS315 Runs in the June block - not every year.
- Smallholder Engagement in Seed Systems: From Field Practice to Science
A new edition if this course is planned for 2024.
- Agroecology and Development EDS352
- Tsedal Asres Wendmu, Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), NMBU
- Grace Tione, Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), NMBU
- Tesfakiros Semere Gebrelibanos, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
- Clifton Makate, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI)
- Ida Arf Tarjem - Postdoctoral Associate (Tufan Lab), School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Breeding and Genetics Section, Cornell University
- Jane Lakot, Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), NMBU
- Emelie Vansant, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Copenhagen
- Gabriel Graton Roman, PhD Fellow in Anthropology, Université Libre de Bruxelles
- Viviana Meixner Vásquez, Researcher, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
- Trygve Berg, Former Professor at Noragric, NMBU
- Cary Fowler, Former Professor, Noragric, NMBU
- Kristine Skarbø, Former Postdoctoral Researcher, Noragric, NMBU
A multi- and interdisciplinary research group working on themes related to crop diversity, seed system development and seed security.