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About Community Seed Banks

Farm Radio International has published transcripts of their radio show, which offered insight to starting a community seed bank: 

"Why save seeds?
Without seeds, crops will not grow. Most important, without a wide selection of seeds, crops will not grow well. Using seeds from many varieties ensures that these crops will be healthy, and that seed is always available to farmers despite drought, flooding, disease, or insects.

Why is a wide selection of seeds important?
There are many varieties of every important crop or tree. For instance there are different varieties of maize and each variety has specific characteristics. Certain varieties of maize have yellow kernels, and others have white kernels. Some maize plants are tall, and others are shorter. Some maize has better protection against insects, while other maize tolerates drought, and so on.
The different varieties and characteristics of local crops are called diversity. Diversity protects crops from poor weather, insects, or disease. If seed from many different varieties is not saved, diversity is lost. And without diversity, the future of both the crop and the farm will be threatened" (Farm Radio International, "Starting a Community Seed Bank, Package 33, Script 3, July 1994).

Does your community need a seed bank? The PACE Project offers tips on how to decide if a seed bank is needed:
"To decide if a bank is needed, answer these two questions:
1.    Do farmers grow local and unusual varieties of food crops?
2.    Do many farmers exchange and share seeds with family and neighbours?
If you answered yes to both questions, then farmers are already protecting crop diversity so that it may not be necessary to start a seed bank. When many farmers grow local varieties and exchange the seed they ensure that good quality seed is always available. Exchanging and sharing seeds among many farmers and across large areas often keeps the seed strong and diverse. But sometimes farmers can't exchange or save seeds. In some parts of the world, farmers do not work together. In other areas, poor yields force farmers to eat their seed. In these cases, a carefully organized seed bank will ensure that there is always some local seed available" (PACE Project, "Action sheet 46: Setting up a Community Seed Bank").
 

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