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Document Abstract
Published: 2011

Banking for the future: savings, security and seeds: a short study of community seed banks in Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Nepal, Thailand, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Developing countries should redirect public subsidies from promoting modern varieties to support community seed banks
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The aim of seed banks is to increase food security and contribute to the continued utilisation of locally important genetic diversity. This paper is sought to document the experiences of community seed banks (CSBs) in a number of developing countries.

The paper concludes that: 

  • most CSBs in the case countries have been established to combat seed insecurity
  • often CSBs have been initiated by (NGOs) or inter-governmental organisations (IGO)
  • empowerment of farmers was an important outcome of CSBs’ projects
  • CSBs promoted “bulk selling of product” and allowed for its members to be trained in local seed production and management
  • in economic terms, banking contributed to increased disposable income from the sale of surplus seed and produce for farmers’ groups


Still, to fully reap the benefits of CSBs in enhancing farmers’ access and control of seeds and conservation of crop genetic diversity, the document introduces a set of policy recommendations:

  • governments should establish and support CSBs as part of their obligations to implement “Farmers’ Rights” and other provisions of the “Plant Treaty”
  • they should revise seed regulations and provisions on intellectual property rights to seeds to ensure farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds
  • they should also redirect public subsidies from promoting modern varieties to support activities of CSBs
  • agricultural research institutions should extend their expertise and services for free to assist and support communities and NGOs in setting up and maintaining CSBs
  • they should multiply and produce farmers’ varieties for increased availability of locally adapted seeds
  • NGOs should adopt a mechanism to share their skills and knowledge in establishing and maintaining CSBs to interested communities and organisations

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A.P. Kroglund; A. Wilhelmsen; B. Batta

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