As in many other countries, South Africa’s smallholder seed systems are increasingly coming under pressure. Factors such as drought, crop failure, difficult storage conditions and poverty are having a negative impact on both the quantity of seed and the number of plant varieties available to farmers. In addition, as a result of agricultural modernization, farmers are increasingly purchasing more of their seeds and losing traditional knowledge and skills of seed selection and storage.
In order to turn the tide, community seedbanks are considered by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Government of the Republic of South Africa (DAFF) as a means to strengthen informal seed systems, support conservation of traditional farmer varieties and maintain seed security at district and community levels.
In August 2013, Bioversity International scientists Ronnie Vernooy and Bhuwon Sthapit, joined DAFF for a field mission to Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces to assess the viability of establishing and supporting community seedbanks in the country’s smallholder farming areas.
Read the report to find out more about the findings and recommendations following the field visit.