Resilient farmer seed systems: the multiple functions of community seedbanks

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Bioversity International scientist Ronnie Vernooy presents on the important role that community seedbanks play in the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity at GIZ Expert Talk on Farmer Seed Systems in Bonn, Germany.

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  • Resilient farmer seed systems: the multiple functions of community seedbanks

    1. 1. Resilient farmer seed systems: the multiple functions of community seedbanks Ronnie Vernooy, Bioversity International
    2. 2. Farmer seed security under stress • Intensification of agriculture • Commoditization of agriculture • Concentration of the seed industry • Lack of support and incentives • Neglect and lack of support for women farmers/seed custodians • Climate change related challenges
    3. 3. Community seedbanks: not well known... • Locally governed and managed institutions to collectively maintain seeds for local use • Around for 30 years across the globe • Different names, forms, seizes, histories Bioversity International global study and new book in 2015: literature review; 32 commissioned in-depth case studies; ongoing action research in Bhutan, China, Nepal, Malaysia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua
    4. 4. Community seedbanks: not duly appreciated, but great potential • Multiple functions and services • Mechanism for farmer empowerment • Link in national and international systems of crop conservation and exchange • Increased awareness of potential roles at government levels (e.g. roles in in situ conservation policy) • Recent demand for supportive policy/legal development
    5. 5. Evolution
    6. 6. Key functions • From conservation to community development
    7. 7. Conservation • Short term conservation of mostly local (farmer) varieties • Longer term conservation of heirloom and rare varieties • Restoration of “lost” varieties • Development of protocols for conservation of healthy and genetically true to type seed and training of local communities
    8. 8. Access and availability • Platform offering multiple channels of access and availability of seeds at the community level • Maintenance of locally adapted seed at a low cost • Fostering of seed exchanges at local and supra-local levels • Provision of adapted seed to marginal communities not served by commercial seed dissemination efforts • When quantities suffice, capacity to respond to local crises/disasters/ acute shortages of seeds (back-up service)-Seed multiplication including of participatory bred varieties
    9. 9. Seed and food sovereignty • Maintenance of local control over seed conservation, exchange and production activities • Income generation through the sales of seeds • Sharing of agricultural biodiversity knowledge and expertise • Linkages between in situ and ex situ conservation • Support of traditional and ethnic food culture and cultural use • Contribution to sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty movements
    10. 10. Governance and management
    11. 11. From autonomous to guided; from informal to formal • At initial stages, sometimes a heavy hand of external actors (NGOs) • Group of self-motivated farmers setting own rules and regulations • Elected committee with more or less clear rules and regulations • Under the leadership and guidance of formal sector (national genebank) • Evolution to cooperative organizational form
    12. 12. Technical issues
    13. 13. Support and connections
    14. 14. Policy developments Bhutan: exploring CSBs as key component of national in situ conservation strategy South Africa: CSBs central to national in situ conservation strategy Brazil: approved legal framework in States of Paraíba, Alagoas and Minas Gerais; being reviewed in four more States Burundi, Guatemala, Nepal: recognition and support as rural cooperatives Strategic Action Plan for strengthening the role of plant genetic resources towards climate change adaptation in Mesoamerica: multifaceted purposes and legitimacy of CSBs as local institutions to promote community-based conservation and sustainable use
    15. 15. Achievements • Has crop diversity increased? Are more varieties of crops available? • Are quality seeds available all year round and in enough quantities? • Are seeds available that do well under poor conditions, such as drought or floods? After natural disasters? • Has the food supply increased? Has the quality of food improved? • Has the income of households increased? • Has the community seedbank facilitated other local development efforts? • Have the organizational capacities of members been strengthened?
    16. 16. Sustainability
    17. 17. Some key variables… • Farmers’ interests and leadership • Building on existing seed exchange practices • Feasibility of building a functional facility with low cost maintenance • Responsiveness to crop diversity decline • Potential to respond to impact of climate change on local farming system • Possibility to link community seedbank with crop improvement efforts • Potential to evolve to a broader community development institution • Availability of sound technical support • Availability of a local resource person to mobilize and facilitate initial steps • Possibility to connect with national genebank and research agencies (exchange of seeds, technical cooperation, financial support) • Enabling policy and legal environment (incentives, rewards, recognition)
    18. 18. Thank you! www.bioversityinternational.org

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