Farming started when local communities started collecting, planting and selecting seeds to meet their needs. Seeds are living links in an unbroken chain reaching back into agriculture’s antiquity. Indeed, the birth of civilization involved seed saving, agriculture, and written language.
Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance (UCFA) recognizes the need for increased diversity in farming and the seed industry, and the need to provide more opportunities and support for growers from historically oppressed and marginalized communities. To this end UCFA is working to bridge the gap between prospective growers and seed companies.
Seed farmers grow crops in a way that enhances the quality and maximizes the quantity of plants for the purpose of selling the seeds to other farmers and gardeners. Growers of flowers, herbs, vegetables, grains, legumes, and fodder crops all rely on seed farmers for their planting material.
The $58 billion global seed market – in which patented GMO seeds are the dominant commodity – is controlled primarily by large agribusinesses, though small, independent seed growers and co-ops are on the rise. Heirloom seed farming is a potentially lucrative business opportunity, as demand far outstrips supply.
Seed farming does not require huge acreage in order to make a profit. Many farmers take up seed growing as a side business, rather than as their sole source of income. Land grant universities and local cooperative extension offices often offer classes and technical advice on growing seed for specific crops.