Hivos website

Conserving global biodiversity

All people should have access to healthy and affordable food. Together, we can build a more sustainable future. #PeopleUnlimited

Growing up as a child, Daniel Wanjama remembers his family would sometimes go without food. “I understand totally how indignifying that is,” he explains, “how going hungry leaves people desperate.”

You cannot have dignity without feeding yourself.

That is why Daniel made it his life’s mission to promote access to healthy and sustainable food. The work he does in his native Kenya not only helps conserve global biodiversity, it also ensures farmers have the freedom to grow the crops they want.

Seeds for survival

Heading the Kenyan Seed Savers Network, Daniel believes diversity of seeds is at the core of fighting hunger and malnutrition. After all, the more diverse and adaptive seeds are, the better they can withstand changing climates. In other words, they play an important role in ensuring food security.

Sustainable food
Daniel Wanjama, photo: Makmende Media / Hivos

Daniel, however, worries about the power of the agrochemical industry. “It is possible to have food coming from all regions, even the dry and wet regions. But, because of the business objectives of seed companies, they make the same seed for all.” The consequence, according to Daniel, is that “Some regions are food insecure because the crop that they are growing is not suitable.” He is convinced the solution lies in giving farmers the knowledge and training they need to save their own seeds.

Ownership is given by nature to everyone.

Together with Hivos, Daniel is implementing an Open Source Seeds System (OSSS) based on protected commons for seed varieties instead of exclusive intellectual property rights. Daniel explains, “OSSS is against monopolization of seeds and about encouraging more players in the seed sector.” The concept was introduced by Hivos in Kenya, and Daniel believes it has come at the right time. We share Daniel’s conviction that seeds are common goods. Or as he puts it, “They are just like air, provided by nature for all of us because they are at the center of survival of humanity.”

A father’s duty 

sustainable food
Daniel and his family, photo: Makmende Media / Hivos

His childhood experiences and his work at the Seed Savers Network have influenced the way Daniel raises his own family. "As a father, it is my duty to make sure that my children eat healthy. To make sure they get the culture of eating healthy. So, I try to make sure that we consume local vegetables because they are more nutritious. And we try as much as possible to have diverse food on our table.”

Read our feature We are what we eat to learn why we believe the food system needs to change.