"Community seedbanks could service as co-ordinating agencies bringing together farmers, plant breeders, genebank curators and other stakeholders to realise the true benefits of utlizing agrobiodiversity effectively and efficiently" – the conclusion of an article published in GRAIN SA last week.
South Africa, like other countries, has a long history of traditional smallholder agriculture in which farmers save a portion from their harvest for the following planting season. They have done for decades, mostly on an individual basis and not collectively within communities.
But agricultural conservation and sustainable use can be more effective if properly managed and spread over the entire agricultural landscape. This, and the recognition of the need to promote on-farm management and conservation of field and landrace crops as a key component of the country's in situ conservation strategy, has led to the Department of Agriculture, Foresty and Fisheries (DAFF), working closely with Bioversity International, to establish community seedbanks in Limpopo and Eastern Cape.
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Photo: Community Seed Fair in South Africa. Credit: Bioversity International/R. Vernooy