Project information

Self Help Africa - Farmer Seed Enterprises

Quality seed can make or break harvests in rural Africa. Self Help Africa provides farmers with the skills to produce their own seed. Quality seed production will provide food and an income for seed growers, increased harvests for farmers sowing the seed and reduce poverty and hunger for many.

The Project started in Jan 2011 and is due to finish Dec 2017. In 2017, Big Give funded activities will focus on Ethiopia.

Charity information

Self Help Africa

Self Help Africa logo
  • Need


    Up to 70% of people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on small-scale farming for their survival. Up to 1 in 3 of them are hungry. Why? Food production is held back by inefficient farming practices and lack of access to the right materials, especially good quality seed.
    Changing weather patterns and increased periods of drought in parts of Africa such as Ethiopia are having a devastating impact of farmers’ harvests, worsening an already challenging situation.


    Self Help Africa helps farmers get good quality seed. Better seed results in bigger harvests which mean fewer people facing hunger. In Ethiopia, we are working to support farmers to produce drought-tolerant seed varieties, enabling farmers to mitigate the worst effects of a changing climate. Together we reduce hunger, improve nutrition, increase incomes and enable African farmers to provide affordable, quality seed to other farmers, changing the lives of African people forever.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Increase production and availability of drought-tolerant seed for 4,000 smallholder farmers


    » Link community seed enterprises with research centres and formal seed supply centres
    » Provide technical support to smallholder farmers and local government staff in seed production, processing, inspection and marketing
    » Distribute 4000kg drought-tolerant basic crop seeds

    Success will be the productivity of seed production increasing by 20%, 4,000 smallholder farmers able to access drought-tolerant seed varieties, growth in local food production

    Aim 2

    Smallholder farmers have increased knowledge and skills in conservation agriculture techniques


    » Training in conservation agriculture techniques
    » Provide conservation agriculture tools

    Success will be farmers applying conservation agriculture techniques which increase their crop yields and contribute to long-term improvements in soil fertility

    Aim 3

    Strengthening local farmer cooperatives


    » Training for cooperative members in organisational development, leadership, business plan development
    » Supporting the cooperative to acquire basic equipment (eg. seed cleaning machine) to improve the quality of seed production and scale-up production

    Success will be improvements in the quality of the seed produced; levels of satisfaction of cooperative members with the management and activities of the cooperative

  • Impact


    As a result of increasing crop yields and incomes and by accessing drought-tolerant seeds, farming families will be able to:
    Satisfy daily calorie and micronutrient requirements through own production and bought food.
    Invest in their homes and businesses thus diversifying their livelihood options and increasing their asset base.
    Have greater income to meet essential household costs such as healthcare and education.
    Better cope with livelihood shocks, including those caused by climate change


    People: Resource-poor farmers find it difficult to change; local 'lead farmers' demonstrate new methods so others 'learn by doing'.
    Exclusion: We involve women and men in culturally sensitive activities and promote labour-saving technology.
    Environment: All our farming methods help mitigate climate change impacts and promote soil conservation; 'our' farmers usually do better in droughts.
    Competition: Current seed sector inadequate; we stimulate local seed production for local markets.


    Donors to this project will receive an annual or twice yearly report (according to requirements) which details activities, achievements and challenges as well as considering future improvements. Financial details, case studies and photographs will also be provided.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £225,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £80,000 Seeds Provision of different seed varieties and early generation seed.
      £65,000 Equipment Materials for seed store construction, seed cleaning and packing equipment.
      £25,000 Training Train farmers in seed multiplication and basic seed selection.
      £27,000 Capacity Building Partnership with seed co-operatives/union, local government, research centres and universities
      £12,000 Monitoring Collection of monthly data, conduct annual assessments, evaluation, narrative and financial reports.
      £16,000 Support costs Contribution to Self Help Africa support costs - staff, office, transport.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Big Give Christmas Challenges 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 £116,209 Guaranteed
    Electric Aid £29,046 Guaranteed
    Trusts & Foundations £42,077 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project has been running in 5 African countries which are amongst the poorest in the world - Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia. Burkina Faso and Togo.
    In 2017, funds raised through Big Give will be used to support the continuation of this work in Oromia region of Ethiopia, working in areas affected by erratic rainfall and changing weather patterns.


    Over the lifetime of the project, we’ve supported 13,000 resource-poor smallholder farmers in isolated rural communities as identified by baseline surveys carried out with village chiefs, local government offices and the local community. At least half of project participants will be women and we also target the particularly vulnerable such as People Living with HIV & AIDS and orphans.
    In 2017, the project will support 4,000 smallholder farming households in Oromia region of Ethiopia.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have 30 years’ experience of food production in Africa and over 20 years experience in Ethiopia. We have worked with over 1 million farmers across the continent helping them grow enough food to feed themselves and earn a living. Our focus on working through local partners to build their skills, ensures that the skills and learning stay in the local community. Our 'pass on' scheme means that the benefits of the project carry on long after we have stopped funding it. We use lead farmers as an e

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Local Partner Staff In Africa

    Identify and mobilise project participants. Train community members in sustainable farming methods. Report on project progress. Develop new work.

    Self Help Africa Staff

    Experienced local Country Directors and their teams source funds and build the skills of partners so they can do it for themselves in the future.

It starts with a seed


can help a family grow a year-round supply of food

"Our job is not just to feed the hungry, but to empower the hungry to feed themselves" World Food Summit, Nov 2009

Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General UN