Genetic Resources Policy Specialist, Ronnie Vernooy, discusses how Bioversity International and partners tackle the need for greater connectivity among community seedbanks.
Community seedbanks have been around for about 30 years. They have been designed and implemented to conserve, restore, revitalize, strengthen and improve local seed systems, and have been especially, but not solely, focused on local varieties. In many countries around the world, notably the global south, they have been instrumental in regaining, maintaining and increasing the control of farmers and local communities over seeds. They have also been strengthening or establishing dynamic forms of cooperation among farmers and between farmers and others involved in the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity.
Surprisingly, however, there is little sharing of knowledge and information taking place among community seedbank practitioners.
Recently, Bioversity International, in collaboration with a number of research and development organizations, agreed to establish a global community seedbank platform to facilitate connections among community seedbanks and community seedbank networks, scale out their activities and achievements and contribute to their sustainability. It is envisioned that this group of partner organizations* can become larger as knowledge and experience about running the platform is gained and operations are increased in scale.
Bioversity International's Genetic Resources Policy Specialist, Ronnie Vernooy, is coordinating the start-up activities of the global platform. Acording to Vernooy, there is a strong demand for technical and organizational support to establish and manage community seedbanks.
Through its multiple activities at local, national and international levels, the global platform aims to strengthen farmers’ seed systems, diversify income sources and livelihoods, and contribute to increased seed security of local communities and countries. Women seed custodians and community seedbank leaders will play a central role in platform activities. Other activities the platform can assist with are: collecting and sharing basic data on community seedbanks around the world; compiling and sharing practical experiences and successes; national and international advocacy and policy development; and national networking. Furthermore, through the establishment of linkages between national genebanks and community seedbanks, farmers and their communities will be able to have better access to more crop diversity – which is very much needed to be able to adapt to climate change and build up resilience.
* Bioversity International’s partner organizations include Arce Noah of Austria, ANDES of Peru, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa)/Palm groves network, Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) of Zimbabwe, Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) of Nepal, the Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen University and Research (WCDI), the Netherlands, and the Farmer Seed Network of China.