Valuing Folk Crop Varieties for Agroecology and Food Security

March 26th, 2010

The superiority of modern crop varieties is so taken for granted that older cultivars and landraces are typically relegated to the status of seedbank acquisitions. This model of active commercial breeding and seedbanks as reserves is simple and also simplistic. One flaw is that when modern cultivars fail seedbanks are not necessarily able to step in. Their stocks may be genetically degraded, non-viable, or simply insufficient. A further flaw is that seeds are much more than capsules of genetic diversity, their appreciation often requires farming, culinary and medicinal knowledge, which is lacking in most seedbank collections.

This situational aspect of genetic conservation is widely ignored and explains much of why in situ conservation is underappreciated. When a hurricane struck the Sunderbans of West Bengal in India earlier this year the government seedbanks or commercial breeders did not step in to help. To learn more, please read the full article.

This article titled “Valuing Folk Crop Varieties for Agroecology and Food Security” was written by Debal Deb, founder of Vrihi, a non-profit seedbank and a conservation farm, and also the Founder-Chair of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in West Bengal, India.


Photo: Debal Deb