YALI Voices: How to Make Seed Balls

Contributed by Helina Teklu, YALI Network member from Ethiopia.

My name is Helina Teklu. I am an architect by profession and also the founder and CEO of a startup organization called Climate Change Africa. CCA serves as a bridge to connect youth with climate change projects to possible investors, experts or volunteers. I founded CCA in 2016 to ensure the inclusion and active participation of youth from Africa in the international climate change negotiation. This is needed as the young people are almost half of Africa’s population and are most affected by climate change. Under CCA I have what I call CCA Movement. CCA Movement creates network links to share knowledge, ideas, experience, skills and strategies on youth actions around the continent on climate change mitigation.

Increasing Green Space and Improving Food Security Through Seed Balls
As part of CCA Movement my teammate Daniel Woldetensay and I travel around Ethiopia sharing our knowledge about seed balls.

Seed balls are marble-sized balls of clay, earth, humus or compost, and seeds. Seed bombing is a technique of introducing vegetation to land by throwing or dropping the seed balls.

Seed balls help increase green space in my country (Ethiopia), but seed balls can work well anywhere with a rainy season. Seed balls have an 80 percent growth success rate in comparison to regular seedlings, which helps people in rural areas have a more consistent supply of food.

How to make seed balls

  1. Mix equal proportions of red clay soil, black soil and compost.
  2. Mix in 1 to 2 parts water slowly until you get thick, dough-like consistency.
  3. Break a small piece off and put the seed you have chosen at the center (maximum of 3 seeds). Once you have placed your seed, roll the portion of dough between your hands into a marble-sized seed ball. Repeat with the rest of the soil.
  4. Let them dry for 24-48 hours until they are fully dry before putting them in your garden or tossing them.

The dried clay acts as a protective barrier that will prevent damage to the seeds from common seed predators (ants, mice and birds.) Once sufficient rain permeates the clay, the seeds inside begin to germinate, helped along by the nutrition and minerals (humus) contained within the balls.

Photos of the Seed Ball Process

Mixing the seed balls
Drying the seed balls
Planted seed balls
Seed balls sprouting

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blog posts contributed by members of the YALI Network.

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