As the first link in the agricultural chain, seeds play a fundamental role in our diet. Rice, millet or wheat, plants represent on average 80% of the food consumed on our planet. This key role is intrinsically linked to the role of farmers, who for thousands of years have been preserving, multiplying and are capable of revealing the potential of different varieties. They have thus contributed to enriching biodiversity and have developed fruits, vegetables and cereals adapted to the land, climate conditions and the tastes of those who consume them. In many countries in the South, farmers’ seeds are a mainstay of food sovereignty, yet there are increasing number of obstacles standing in the way of small farmers.

A dangerous ban

Recent economic agreements signed by Switzerland often include a clause that forces countries in the South to apply strict rules on the use of seeds. Behind the unattractive and not very explicit acronym UPOV 91 lies a real danger: a ban on farmers in the signatory countries to exchange, save, multiply and sell seeds. A policy which is contrary to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and which the industrialised countries do not even apply as strictly on their own territory. As part of this campaign, SWISSAID will strengthen its commitment to ensuring that future agreements negotiated by Switzerland no longer contain this clause.

Our upcoming events

Throughout the year, numerous events on the topic of seeds will take place throughout Switzerland. Here you will find the upcoming events. The list will be updated continuously.

We will be present with a stand at various markets in Switzerland. The dates recorded so far are:

As part of the Public Eye seed exhibition, we will also present the film “Our Seeds – Wir ernten, was wir säen” (2016 – in German) on 4 May at the Bourbaki cinema in Lucerne (19:00).


Saving biodiversity

“Let’s sow change” is also a call to save our biodiversity. In one century, 75% of plant varieties have disappeared. This is a chilling figure that can be explained in part by the drastic reduction in the number of farmers’ seeds in favour of industrial seeds. Patented industrial seeds, which require the use of chemical fertilisers and synthetic pesticides and which destroy the soil as well as pollinating insects.

As part of this campaign on the key role of seeds and agroecology in saving our biodiversity, SWISSAID is joining forces with ProSpecieRara – a Swiss foundation that aims to protect endangered crops and livestock – to turn the spotlight on the challenges facing the seed sector in Switzerland in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the situation.