Seeds for Food, an action for sustainable development and poverty alleviation (Willem)

h1 Seeds for Food

Photo: Fresh food full of vitamins and mineral elements in the Sahara desert (Tindouf area, S.W. Algeria) grown from seeds collected by people in developed countries (UNICEF’s family garden and school garden project).

Collecting seeds of tropical fruits and vegetables for developing countries

Let us ban hunger and poverty from the world.

In 2005, I was invited by UNICEF ALGERIA as an advisor for the project “Family gardens and school gardens in the Saharawi refugee camps in South-East Algeria”.  A preliminary study gave evidence that we were able to show families and schools of these refugees (most of them are nomads or fishermen), who have lived in those Sahara camps for more than 30 years, how to layout small kitchen gardens.  We also showed them how to grow fruits and vegetables with a minimum of water and fertilizers, using a water stocking soil conditioner.

In this part of the Sahara (the area around the city of Tindouf, S.W. Algeria) there are two seasons:

(1) the autumn-winter season (from September till January) in which various vegetables can be grown: lettuce, beetroots, carrots, onions, parsley …

(2) the spring-summer season (from February till August) in which it is too hot for vegetables, but in which one can grow various tropical fruits such as melons, watermelons, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, papayas and eggplants (aubergines).

The planning and layout of family and school gardens is no major problem, since there is plenty of space. If one uses a soil conditioner that can store irrigation water, a very small amount of water will do to create sufficient moisture in the soil for granting a continuous plant growth. Unfortunately, there is lack of seeds of tropical fruits and vegetables. Commercial seeds are much too expensive. Vitally important to these people is not to grow special high quality varieties, but to have at their disposal some juicy food in the hottest period of the year, when nothing else is growing in the desert.

Therefore we call on you to show your solidarity with those poverty-stricken refugees or with this poor rural population of India.

We don’t ask you any money.

Only send, when it suits you, the seeds you find in the fruits you eat yourself: melons, water melons, pumpkins, sweet pepper, avocado, papaya, zucchini, cherimoya, pawpaw, etc.

Just rinse these seeds in water and dry them on a plate (not on a piece of paper as it would stick to the seeds). As soon as the seeds are thoroughly dried, put them in a paper envelope and put the name of the species on it.  Then send it to me.  It will only cost you the stamp.

The more we gather seeds, the more families we can help.

One thing we know for sure: this project can turn out to be a world initiative, since we, citizens of the developed countries, young or old, (grand)parents, children and grandchildren, we can work together. However small your contribution, however small the parcel of grains you send us, we can assure you that it will contribute to improve the standard of living of the poor, since YOUR SEEDS GET TO THE PEOPLE without any go-between.

This way we will contribute together to fight hunger and poverty in the world.

Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
Beeweg 36
B-9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgique)
Tél. +32 9 356 86 16
e-mail :

You can also group your seeds with friends and send larger packages to the same address. Thank you so much!

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

%d bloggers like this: