4 Crop management
Seed supply and quality
Disasters can have a severe impact on the availability of seed for local food crops, and the recovery process may include seed assistance. Obtaining good-quality seed was a major problem after the tsunami in Aceh. Demand was so high that the main seed producers could not supply enough good-quality seed. Not all farmers used certified seed, and so crop establishment was unreliable. Many farmers who were given seed by aid groups found that the seed was not viable or that the varieties were unsuitable for the local market, resulting in loss of income and a waste of farmer time and resources.
The shortage of seed after the tsunami revealed the need to develop and maintain local seed breeding through local farmers’ groups. An assessment of the local seed supply situation (Sperling 2008) is an important step in disaster recovery. In Aceh, seedbanks were constructed after the tsunami in rural areas to store locally produced seed. If seed storage facilities are available, farmers can be trained to select plants for mother seed and produce seed crops. Training can also be provided for seed quality assurance, storage and distribution.
The Aceh experience showed the importance of providing agricultural aid appropriate for the area, soil type, season, and local markets and tastes. Access to familiar varieties is important in the initial stages of recovery.