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New Brief Published: Building an enabling framework to promote community seed banks

Updated: Oct 11, 2023


Ronnie Vernooy [corresponding author], Bioversity International, Wageningen, the Netherlands,

Arnab Gupta, Abishkar Subedi, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands

(Bioversity International is part of the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture)

The Importance of Community Seed Banks

Community seed banks help conserve agricultural biodiversity and empower farmers by maintaining and distributing local crop varieties. They provide many valuable functions like seed production, conservation, exchange, improvement, and more. Women farmers often play key roles as seed custodians and managers.

Operating in a Policy Void

Despite their benefits, community seed banks largely operate in a policy and legal void. Very few countries like Brazil, Nepal, and Uganda have incorporated them into national policies or legal frameworks. This lack of formal recognition and integration hinders their sustainability.

Elements of a Support Strategy

The brief proposes key elements of a strategy to create more supportive policies, laws, and institutions for community seed banks. It is based on four core dimensions:

Recognition and Respect - Formally recognize community seed banks as legitimate, valuable organizations and respect their autonomy and rules.

Support and Collaboration - Build capacities like governance, seed quality, conservation methods, partnerships with other seed actors, etc. Provide financial, technical and organizational support.

Actions for Policymakers and Genebanks - Work together on activities like documentation, reintroducing lost varieties, training, agroecology promotion, etc. Ratify the Protocol for collaboration between genebanks and community seed banks.

An Enabling Framework

By incorporating these strategies of recognition, respect, support, and collaboration, policymakers can enable community seed banks to sustainably fulfill their multiple functions and contributions to society.

Read the brief below

An institutional framework for community seed banks - 2_OCT_DEF
Download PDF • 4.23MB

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