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Value of household and community seed banks

Value of household and community seed banks

by African Centre for Biodiversity

9259 views - Submitted on Mon, 18/06/2018

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It began more than a hundred million years ago. Flowering plants emerged from the earth, evolving, diversifying… developing sophisticated mechanisms for growth and reproduction. Then we humans emerged, just a few hundred thousand years ago, surrounded by flowers, its pollinators and the ensuing fruits and seeds that flowers produced. A chronicle of civilization is a chronicle of seeds. We stopped chasing and searching for food. We started experimenting with growing food. Our ancestors settled down to become… agricultural. We, with the seed, have co-evolved together. Our food today, illustrates our deep connection with our environment. At the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, hosted by the African Centre for Biodiversity at Constitution Hill in December 2017, farmers and practitioners doing practical seed bank work shared their experiences with participants in small groups, Small groups then discussed the role of the national gene banks in repatriating seed varieties to smallholder farmers for production and exchange.


fatima_20706's picture

In South Africa, different initiatives are under way to build farmer-based seed bank networks both in the public sector and by civil society.

Availability of and access to diverse, quality seed is a key element in successful crop production. Commercial seed systems focus only on seeds where profits can be made. Over time this has resulted in neglect and disappearance of diverse indigenous and farmer varieties, and a shrinking of agricultural biodiversity. Local seed banks owned and run by farmers are an effective way to expand seed collections, and to maintain and distribute diverse seed varieties that are not offered in the commercial system. Seed banks may take the form of household networks, or group schemes. The public sector – including the National Gene Bank, the Agricultural Research Council and extension services – have an important role to play in bringing fresh genetic materials to farmers, and in reintroducing lost varieties and crops held at national level.

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