Availability of and access to diverse, quality seed is a key element in successful crop production. Commercial seed systems focus only on seeds where profits can be made. Over time this has resulted in neglect and disappearance of diverse indigenous and farmer varieties, and a shrinking of agricultural biodiversity. Local seed banks owned and run by farmers are an effective way to expand seed collections, and to maintain and distribute diverse seed varieties that are not offered in the commercial system. Seed banks may take the form of household networks, or group schemes. The public sector – including the National Gene Bank, the Agricultural Research Council and extension services – have an important role to play in bringing fresh genetic materials to farmers, and in reintroducing lost varieties and crops held at national level.
In South Africa, different initiatives are under way to build farmer-based seed bank networks both in the public sector and by civil society. At the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, hosted by the African Centre for Biodiversity at Constitution Hill in December 2017, participants shared their experiences and discussed options and priorities.
For the full report on the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, as well as blogs from the event please clicks on the following links: