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Background & Objectives

With the intensification in the agricultural sector, a commercialized, privatized and more and more monopolized system of plant breeding and seed production has developed: It focuses on a narrow spectrum of high yield varieties for the industrial agriculture and therefore contributes substantially to the worldwide loss of cultivated crop plant variety. The Commons-based variety breeding and seed production presents an approach to counteract genetical erosion of crop plant variety and thus promotes food sovereignty.

Especially in countries of the Global South, Commons-based approaches such as seed exchange systems, community seed banks and participatory plant breeding are successfully practiced. More recently, seed initiatives in the context of organic plant breeding in Germany have emerged that are starting to integrate principles of Commons in their work.

The research project´s goal is to explore the transformative potential of  Commons-based seed systems for a social-ecological plant cultivation and how this potential can be enhanced. Therefore, the functioning and context factors of actors employing this alternative approach to variety breeding and seed production are assessed both from theoretical and practical perspectives.  Moreover, promising breeding approaches, business models, communication and governance strategies are to be developed for the participating seed initiatives. Moreover, the project aims at initiating learning processes between Commons-based seed initiatives at the national and international level.

Inter- and Transdisciplinarity

Integrating perspectives from ecology, economics, political science and ethics, as well as collaborating with German and Philippine seed stakeholders, RightSeeds follows an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach. At the Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, the philosophical and institutional economics analyses are centered: The former addresses how Commons-based seed systems enable actors to personal well-being by supporting capabilities.  The latter addresses how institutions in the multi-level governance system affect Commons-based seed and variety initiatives and how they can enlarge their scope for action. The Institute for Ecological Economics Research investigates the organizational structures of social entrepreneurs and their role for the provision of common goods. Additionally, field experiments with vegetable varieties will be carried out by the Agroecology group of the Universität Göttingen.

Central actors in the fields of organic plant breeding, seed production, distribution and marketing constitute the practical partners in the German-speaking context (Kultursaat e.V., Saat:gut e.V., Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, tegut, Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren). Other partners are AGRECOL e.V., an association that works at the interface between science and practice for the establishment of seeds as common goods; Arche Noah e.V, engaging for the preservation of crop diversity also on a political level, and MASIPAG in the Philippines, which is a network of 35.000 rice grower families, scientists and NGOs. The practical partners’ integration is implemented by initiating, monitoring/mentoring and South-North exchanges, regular focus groups and workshops, interviews,  as well as joint field experiments.


Photo: Pixabay

Composite Cross Populations (CCPs)

One strategy for increasing resilience towards changes in environmental conditions is the development of Composite Cross Populations (CCPs). Last summer, three of our students investigated what drives or hinders the use of CCPs in cultivation practice. To this end, they compiled the current state of research and legislation and interviewed organic wheat growers from northern Germany.


Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

International Seed Markets – Some facts we collected

Using less and less available edible plant species for global human consumption has manifested as a trend in the 20th century. At the same time, the seed value chain has grown more complex since seeds are not produced in farming communities anymore. Breeding, multiplication and marketing are often conducted by specialized companies. Increasing consolidation is a concern for the global seed industry…


Photo: Screenshot of the celebration after the defense
Photo: Screenshot of the celebration after the defense

PhD successfully completed – highlights from the research of Anoush Ficiciyan

On the 19th May 2020, Anoush Ficiciyan successfully completed her PhD after three and a half years in an “Online Defense”. In the RightSeeds project, she took the agro-ecological perspective on organic and traditional varieties. Read more…



Upcoming events

15.10.2020 Engagement.Biobreeding Workshop – How organic breeding adds value to the food chain

[Postponed to 2021] Juli 2020 | Our project partner MASIPAG will visit breeders, seed companies and seed initiatives in Germany.

Past events

26.02.2020 Research Day at UBC Farm: Lea Kliem talked about the contribution of commons-based plant breeding and seed production to the social-ecological resilience of the agricultural sector

12.-15.02.2020 RightSeeds participated in the Organic Seed Growers Conference

21.-25.10.2019 | ESP 10 World Conference: 10 Years of advancing ecosystem services science, policy and practice for a sustainable future

4.-10.2.2019 | South-North-Exchange with our german and philippine project partners in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija, Luzon, Philippines.

22.-23.1.2019two-day workshop by SEARICE in Quezon, Philippines: Taking a Stand for the Future of Seeds, Food and Agriculture: A Multi-Stakeholder Workshop


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