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Seeds for Life - COMPLETED

A conservation partnership between Kenya Seed Conservation Agencies and the RBG Kew Millennium Seed Bank Project.


Tim Pearce, RBG Kew

The Partners identified the following key project outputs and activities over a 9 year project period 2001 - 2010

  • Capacity of communities and their partners to conserve and use Plant Genetic Resources improved. The Project will train target communities on aspects of seed collection, handling and storage and sustainable natural resources management. Relevant training will also be supported in Partner institutions. The Project will support the enhancement of partnerships and linkages amongst communities, institutions and projects for conservation through use of indigenous PGR.
  • In situ and ex situ conservation of priority plant diversity in drylands enhanced. The Project will support the establishment of community seed centres, nurseries and demonstration planting of indigenous species. The Partners will: conserve germplasm by undertaking seed collecting missions; store seed collections in Kenyan ex situ facilities, such as the National Genebank of Kenya; duplicate collections at the RBG Kew seed bank for long-term conservation and safe-keeping; carry out viability testing of stored seed through germination experiments following standard seed bank management protocols; carry out taxonomic verification and seed studies to support development of long term seed banking protocols.
  • Uptake of information and adoption of appropriate technologies for PGR conservation enhanced. There will be dissemination of information to communities via community seed centres in the most appropriate means to meet local needs. The Project will review traditional practices of seed handling and improve selected PGR conservation technologies for the benefit of target communities.

Project targets include: the collection of seed from c. 1,500 species new to MSB; execution of two PhD programmes and two MSc Programmes; six technical attachments; and purchase of major equipment for upgrading of National Genebank facilities and field equipment.

The final 6 month period of project implementation ended in March 2010. Since that time, the project has been in a “Transition Period” where significant project development work has been undertaken to launch a new phase of activities.

Headline achievements include:

  • 2 PhD degrees awarded and 4 MSc. programmes completed;
  • 5 International diplomas in Plant Conservation Techniques completed;
  • 13 Technical Diplomas from Maseno University awarded;
  • 20 technical & training attachments to Kew completed; 
  • Supported the development of community tree nurseries in three focal districts with equipment and consumables;
  • 189 community members in three districts trained in seed collection techniques;
  • Manual for Community based seed collection published; 
  • 3000 collections of 1800 species made in total;
  • 2400 collections of 1500 species duplicated to MSB contributing 850 species new to MSB collections;
  • Database of seed accessions held in Genebank of Kenya compiled;
  • Type specimens for 7 taxa represented by seed collection vouchers;
  • 570 germination tests for 565 species undertaken;
  • Comparative longevity tests for 32 species completed.

Key papers published since 2006

  • Muthoka, P. N., Hay, F. R., Dida, M. M., Nyabundi, J. O and Probert, R. J. 2009. Moisture content and the longevity of seeds of six Euphorbia species in open storage. Seed science and technology 37: 383-397.
  • Nyamongo, D.O., Nyabundi, J. and Daws, M.I. (2009), Germination and dormancy breaking requirements for Vernonia galamensis (Asteraceae). Seed Sci. & Technol., 37, 1-9.
  • Obunyali C.O., R.M. Muasya b, D.O. Nyamongo c, H. Van Rheenen. 2008. A study on comparative longevity of banked and freshly collected seeds of two wild sesame species: South African Journal of Botany 74 764–767.

Project partners and collaborators


National Museums of Kenya, Plant Conservation Programme

Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Kenya Forestry Tree Seed Centre

Kenya Agicultural Research Instiutute, Genebank of Kenya

Kenya Forest Department

Kenya Wildlife Services

Project funders


Millennium Commission

Annex material

Conferences and workshops

  • Nyamongo D.O., P A Makoude, Akunda, E.M , Hay F. and Oeba V. 2008. The nature of seed dormancy in Sesamum latifolia and the appropriate germination testing protocol. Proceedings of the 5th KEFRI Scientific Conference. KEFRI. MUGUGA.
  • Nyamongo D.O., Daws M., Nyabundi J.O and Ayiecho P.O, Nyangau G.M. 2008 Temperature regulation of seed dormancy in Vernonia galamensis. Proceedings of the 11th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. KARI. NAIROBI.
  • Nyamongo D.O., M.I. Daws, J. Nyabundi and Oeba V. 2008. Seed dormancy in and the appropriate germination protocol for Vernonia galamensis (Asteraceae). Proceedings of the 11th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. KARI. NAIROBI.
  • Nyamongo D.O., Daws M.I., Nyabundi, J.O. and Ayiecho P.A. 2006. A study on the onset of dormancy and dormancy levels in two subsp of Vernonia galamensis and the appropriate seed production environmental conditions for the species. Proceedings of the 10th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. KARI. NAIROBI.
  • Nyamongo D.O., Nyabundi, J.O., Daws M.I. and Ayiecho P.A. 2006. Seed maturation under different environmental conditions and the optimal harvesting point for Vernonia galamensis Proceedings of the 10th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. KARI. Nairobi
  • Nyamongo D.O., Wambugu P., Muthamia Z.K. and Rao K. 2006. Seed dormancy and an appropriate germination testing protocol for four Eragrostis species. Proceedings of the 10th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. KARI. NAIROBI
  • Nyamongo D.O, Muthoka P.N and Ngae G.N. 2004 Establishing the hermetic properties of locally available storage containers in Kenya for use in seed banks. Proceedings of the 10th KARI Biennial Scientific Conference. KARI. NAIROBI

Project Department