What exactly are farmers' seeds?
Every year, farmers extract the best seeds from what they harvest, i.e., the seeds that are best adapted to their local growing conditions (in terms of climate, soil, etc.) and whose seedlings produce the best fruit and vegetables. This selection of seeds will then be replanted the following year and will be used for the next harvest. The reasoning behind this practice is that over the years, farmers end up with seedlings that are increasingly resistant and specific to the particular region in which they are grown. This is how the Kouign Amann butternut squash came about, which only grows over a few hectares of ground in Brittany.
Until recently, it was prohibited to sell seeds obtained from these fruit and vegetables in France and Europe.
Only the harvests obtained from a small number of seeds listed in an official European catalogue could be sold.
Why do we need to take action?
By only authorising the sale of these fruit and vegetable seeds, 90% of fruit and vegetable varieties disappeared in the last century. What we therefore need to do is create an established farmers' seeds sector in order to preserve the planet's biodiversity, guarantee taste and – most importantly – ensure the diversity of products available.
Carrefour has pledged to work alongside two groups of producers over a five-year period. The agreement it has signed includes a number of contractual commitments, as well as commitments to prices and volumes purchased from producers.
Is this really so new?
Farmers have always produced farmers' seeds. What's new is the change in legislation which "releases" organic farmers' seeds – which have been prohibited for decades – so they can be sold. Starting in July 2021, farmers will be able to freely sell their own seeds obtained from organic farming. A change that Carrefour helped to bring about with its "Forbidden market" campaign in September 2017.
What is the long-term aim?
Increase sales of farmers' seeds with more products, more producers (eight more producers will join the initiative in 2019) and more regions. So that consumers can enjoy fruit and vegetables grown from farmers' seeds, cultivated close to where they live.