skip to content

From Collection to Cultivation

A picture of green seedlings on soil

Doctoral Project: Hitesh Pant

This thesis will trace the history of seed sovereignty. Seed sovereignty 'is the farmer’s rights to save, breed and exchange seeds, to have access to diverse open-source seeds which can be saved –and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants' (Sustainable Food Trust, 2021). To tell the history of seed sovereignty, the thesis will recover the lesser-known histories of the International Peasants’ Movement (Via Campesina) and ‘seed activism’, in order to demonstrate how the gradual unification of the ideas of these social movements led to the emergence of ‘seed sovereignty’. The thesis also aims illuminate how the historical knowledge and processes embedded in seed sovereignty affect the current practices of crop cultivation within a specific territorial space. This part of the thesis will be based on historical case studies of the Gaia Foundation’s UK and Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme. As an organisation based in the United Kingdom, this historically grounded ethnographic work will provide a new lens to understand how ideas originally intended to preserve biodiversity within the socio-ecological contexts of the global South are applied within the context of the global North.

Keywords: landworkers’ alliance, la via campesina, seed sovereignty, food security, governance

Recent presentation by Hitesh Pant on the history of seed sovereignty:

'The Revolutionary History of Via Campesina', Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting, Stavanger, Norway, August 2022.

'Productivism, Peasant Activism, and the Roots of Via Campesina', Institute of Development Studies, Epics of Agricultural Science and Technology Workshop, September 2022.