Elizabeth Ojuang Liech
Elizabeth grew up in the grassy hills of Kakun’s farmland. Throughout her childhood, she watched and learned the many daily tasks of running a farm. Little by little, she picked up a wide range of valuable traditional knowledge from her mother, which had been passed down through her family for generations. Once she was old enough to start her own farm, she relied on this knowledge, and it was this knowledge that helped her earn a living. One technique she credits above the others is her traditional seed preservation method.
Elizabeth’s traditional seed preservation technique starts by hollowing out and drying gourds, creating an opaque, sturdy container. The next step of preparation takes place right before harvest. She collects cow urine, which she leaves to sit and ferment for one week. Next, she mixes the fermented cow urine with ash, which she sets aside to dry. After she harvests her crops, she selects seeds based on specific traits (which varies for each crop) to ensure the best seeds are saved for the future planting seasons. Then, she mixes the selected seeds with ash. Finally, she places the seeds in the gourds and pots and seals them with cow dung. Once sealed, seeds are kept cool and protected from pests. Under these conditions, seeds can last for two years or more.
Elizabeth’s technique ensures seed sovereignty for herself and others in her community who have begun to use it. By saving her own seeds, she guarantees she will have high-quality seed each year. She also saves money by eliminating the need to buy seed from farm stores. For smallholder farmers like Elizabeth, these savings are critically important and can mean the difference between making a profit or not. Additionally, by sharing her technique with others in her community, Elizabeth is continuing to preserve this knowledge for generations to come.