Community Seed Banks: Origins, Evolution and Prospects, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Community Seed Banks

Origins, Evolution and Prospects, 1st Edition

Edited by Ronnie Vernooy, Pitambar Shrestha, Bhuwon Sthapit


270 pages | 32 Color Illus. | 19 B/W Illus.

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Community seed banks first appeared towards the end of the 1980s, established with the support of international and national non-governmental organizations. This book is the first to provide a global review of their development and includes a wide range of case studies.

Countries that pioneered various types of community seed banks include Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. In the North, a particular type of community seed bank emerged known as a seed-savers network. Such networks were first established in Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA before spreading to other countries. Over time, the number and diversity of seed banks has grown. In Nepal, for example, there are now more than 100 self-described community seed banks whose functions range from pure conservation to commercial seed production. In Brazil, community seed banks operate in various regions of the country.

Surprisingly, despite 25 years of history and the rapid growth in number, organizational diversity and geographical coverage of community seed banks, recognition of their roles and contributions has remained scanty. The book reviews their history, evolution, experiences, successes and failures (and reasons why), challenges and prospects. It fills a significant gap in the literature on agricultural biodiversity and conservation, and their contribution to food sovereignty and security.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Ronnie Vernooy, Pitambar Shrestha and Bhuwon Sthapit

Part 1: Comparative Analysis of Key Aspects of Community Seed Banks

2. Origins and Evolution

Ronnie Vernooy, Pitambar Shrestha and Bhuwon Sthapit

3. Functions and Activities

Pitambar Shrestha, Ronnie Vernooy and Bhuwon Sthapit

4. Governance and Management

Bhuwon Sthapit, Ronnie Vernooy and Pitambar Shrestha

5. Technical Issues

Pitambar Shrestha, Bhuwon Sthapit and Ronnie Vernooy

6. Support and Networking

Ronnie Vernooy, Bhuwon Sthapit and Pitambar Shrestha

7. Policy and Legal Environment

Ronnie Vernooy, Pitambar Shrestha and Bhuwon Sthapit

8. Sustainability

Pitambar Shrestha, Bhuwon Sthapit and Ronnie Vernooy

Part 2: Case Studies from Around the World

9. Bangladesh: the Mamudpur Nayakrishi Seed Hut

M. A. Sobhan, Jahangir Alam Jony, Rabiul Islam Chunnu and Fahima Khatun Liza

10. Bhutan: the Bumthang Community Seed Bank

Asta Tamang and Gaylong Dukpa

11. Bolivia: Community Seed Banks in the Lake Titicaca Area

Milton Pinto, Juana Flores Ticona and Wilfredo Rojas

12. Brazil: Gene Banks, Seed Banks and Local Seed Guardians

Terezinha Aparecia Borges Dias, Irajá Ferreira Antunes, Ubiratan Piovezan, Fabio de Oliveira Freitas, Marcia Maciel, Gilberto A. P. Bevilaqua, Nadi Rabelo dos Santos and Cristiane Tavares Feijó

13. Brazil: the Minas Gerais Seed Houses for Conservation in Times of Climate Crisis

Anna Crystina Alvarenga and Carlos Alberto Dayrell

14. Canada: the Toronto Seed Library

Katie Berger, Jacob Kearey-Moreland and Brendan Behrmann

15. China: The Xiding Gene Bank in Yunnan

Yang Yayun, Zhang Enlai, Devra Jarvis, Bai Keyu, Dong Chao, A. Xinxiang, Tang Cuifeng, Zhang Feifei, Xu Furong and Dai Luyuan

16. Costa Rica: Unión de Semilleros del Sur

Flor Ivette Elizondo Porras, Rodolfo Araya Villalobos, Juan Carlos Hernández Fonseca and Karolina Martínez Umaña

17. Guatemala: Community Seed Reserves Restore Maize Diversity

Gea Galluzzi and Isabel Lapeña

18. India: Community Seed Banks and Empowering Tribal Communities in the Kolli Hills

E. D. Israel Oliver King, N. Kumar and Stefano Padulosi

19. India: From Community Seed Banks to Community Seed Enterprises

G. V. Ramanjaneyulu, G. Rajshekar and K. Radha Rani

20. Malaysia: Exploring the Utility of a Community Seed Bank in Sarawak

Paul Bordoni and Toby Hodgkin

21. Mali: An Overview of Community Seed and Gene Banks

Amadou Sidibe, Raymond S. Vodouhe and Sognigbe N’Danikou

22. Mali: The USC Canada-supported Gene and Seed Banks of the Mopti Region

Abdrahamane Goïta, Hamadoun Bore, Mariam Sy Ouologueme and Ada Hamadoun Dicko

23. Mexico: Community Seed Banks in Oaxaca

Flavio Aragón-Cuevas

24. Nepal: the Historical Dalchowki Community Seed Bank

Bharat Bhandari, Surya Thapa, Krishna Sanjel and Pratap Shrestha

25. Nepal: the Community Seed Bank in Tamaphok

Dilli Jimi, Manisha Jimi and Pitambar Shrestha

26. Nicaragua: La Labranza No. 2 Community Seed Bank — ‘We are a Network’

Jorge Iran Vásquez Zeledón

27. Rwanda: the Rubaya Community Gene Bank

Leonidas Dusengemungu, Theophile Ndacyayisenga, Gloria Otieno, Antoine Ruzindana Nyirigira and Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi

28. Sri Lanka: The Haritha Udana Community Seed Bank in Kanthale

C. L. K. Wakkumbure and K. M. G. P. Kumarasinghe

29. Trinidad and Tobago: SJ Seed Savers

Jaeson Teeluck and Satie Boodoo

30. Uganda: The Kiziba Community Gene Bank

Mulumba John Wasswa, Rose Nankya, Catherine Kiwuka, Joyce Adokorach, Gloria Otieno, Marjorie Kyomugisha, Carlo Fadda and Devra I. Jarvis

31. United States of America: Native Seeds/SEARCH

Chris Schmidt

32. Burundi: Community Seed Banks and the Welthungerhilfe Program in Kirundo

Christian Ngendabanka, Godefroid Niyonkuru, Lucien D’Hooghe and Thomas Marx

33. Honduras: Community Seed Banks Established by Local Agricultural Research Committees

Orvill Omar Gallardo Guzmán, Carlos Antonio Ávila Andino, Marvin Joel Gómez Cerna, Mainor Guillermo Pavón Hernández and Gea Galluzzi

34. Nepal: LI-BIRD’s Approach to Supporting Community Seed Banks

Pitambar Shrestha and Sajal Sthapit

35. Norway’s Development Fund: Supporting Community Seed Banking Practices

Teshome Hunduma and Rosalba Ortiz

36. Spain: The Seed Network, Resembrando e Intercambiando

Members of the Red de Semillas

37. USC Canada’s Experience in Supporting Community Seed Banks in Africa, Asia and the Americas

Sarah Paule Dalle and Susan Walsh

38. Zimbabwe: the Experience of the Community Technology Development Trust

Andrew T. Mushita, Patrick Kasasa and Hilton Mbozi

39. Brazil: Community Seed Banks and Brazilian Laws

Juliana Santilli

40. The Role of Community Seed Banks in Adaptation to Climate Change in Mesoamerica

Gea Galluzzi, Evert Thomas, Maarten van Zonneveld, Jacob van Etten and Marleni Ramirez

41. Nepal: Government Policies and Laws Related to Community Seed Banks

Pashupati Chaudhary, Rachana Devkota, Deepak Upadhyay and Kamal Khadka

42: Community Seed Banks in Mexico: An In Situ Conservation Strategy

Karina Sandibel Vera Sánchez, Rosalinda González Santos and Flavio Aragón-Cuevas

43. South Africa: a New Beginning for Community Seed Banks

Ronnie Vernooy, Bhuwon Sthapit, Mabjang Angeline Dibiloane, Nkat Lettie Maluleke Tovhowani Mukoma and Thabo Tjikana

44. Epilogue: Visions of the Future

Ronnie Vernooy, Bhuwon Sthapit and Pitambar Shrestha

About the Editors

Ronnie Vernooy is a Genetic Resources Policy Specialist at Bioversity International, Rome, Italy.

Pitambar Shrestha is a Program Officer with Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD), Pokhara, Nepal.

Bhuwon Sthapit is a Senior Scientist and Regional Project Coordinator for Bioversity International, based in Pokhara, Nepal.

About the Series

Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity

Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity

This series of books is published by Earthscan in association with Bioversity International. The aim of the series is to review the current state of knowledge in topical issues associated with agricultural biodiversity, to identify gaps in our knowledge base, to synthesize lessons learned and to propose future research and development actions. The overall objective is to increase the sustainable use of biodiversity in improving people’s well-being and food and nutrition security. The series’ scope is all aspects of agricultural biodiversity, ranging from conservation biology of genetic resources through social sciences to policy and legal aspects. It also covers the fields of research, education, communication and coordination, information management and knowledge sharing.

For more information on Bioversity International, please visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection
NATURE / Natural Resources