Community seed banks in India are central platforms for strengthening and developing farmer-managed seed systems and thus for seed and food security among smallholder farmers and their families. However, no one knows how many community seed banks there are in India or where all are located – and India has no national platform for community seed banks to share their experiences yet.

The project Unfolding the Potentials of Community Seed Banks for Food and Nutrition Security among Smallholder Farmers in India through the Realization of Farmers’ Rights (DIVERSIFARM-India)  has been set up to identify the community seed banks in India and establish a national platform for them and their supporting organisations to share experiences and develop solutions to joint challenges. The project will also explore why some community seed banks are particularly successful and derive lessons for capacity building programmes. Furthermore, DIVERSIFARM-India will seek to explore and improve the institutional, legal and policy environments around community seed banks to strengthen their long-term sustainability and identify possibilities for scaling out best practices. Thereby the project seeks to further enhance the realization of Farmers’ Rights in India. The project started in 2024 and will last until the end of 2026.

 

Involvement

DIVERSIFARM-India is aimed at serving and strengthening community seed banks and their supporting organisations. To best serve them, DIVERSIFARM-India will strive to involve them in the project design and activities at all levels. From 2024 on, the project team seeks to contact all community seed banks in India and their supporting organisations, inviting them to become involved in the project and to be presented at an online platform with overview of community seed banks in the country. Involvement will be beneficial in many ways: Visibility and recognition for community seed banks through a joint platform; knowledge about each other, possibilities to get in touch, exchange experiences and join forces; invitation to seminars and to shaping the way forward for the project; access to the results and publications from DIVERSIFARM-India, and in particular to potential solutions to strengthening the long-term sustainability of community seed banks, their institutional support and an enabling environment in terms of policies, legislation and concrete measures.

Importantly, DIVERSIFARM-India does not involve any exchange of seed or related information about the varieties and populations in the care of community seed banks. The purpose is solely to strengthen community seed banks and farmer-managed seed systems as an approach to improving local seed-, food- and nutrition security and the local diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

 

What is a Community Seed Bank?

In this project we apply a broad definition of community seed banks, so as not to exclude important initiatives. We will then develop a typology to highlight the different categories of community seed banks in India and their specificities.

 

We understand community seed banks as local, informal or formal institutions/initiatives whose core function are to conserve, manage and share seeds and propagating material of diverse local crop varieties for local use. This definition comprises institutions/initiatives that are collectively governed as well as individual initiatives aimed at supporting local communities with crop diversity, such as those of many Plant Genome Saviour Award winners.

 

Results from DIVERSIFARM-India

Here you will find the results from DIVERSIFARM-India, as soon as they are published:

  • A GIS-based map of India with all community seed banks mapped through DIVERSIFARM-India plotted in, and with basic information about each.

  • A typoplogy of community seed banks in India.
  • Results from the survey carried out as part of the mapping.
  • Results from in-depth case studies of community seed banks in Odisha, with emphasis on how we can explain success in strengthening farmers’ seed systems and improving food- and nutrition security and livelihoods among smallholder farmers.
  • Capacity building material based on the findings and on experiences from other community seed banks in India, enriched also with examples from other countries.
  • Options for improving the institutional frameworks in which community seed banks are embedded.
  • Options for improving policies, legislation and concrete measures to strengthen community seed banks and farmers’ rights.
  • Options for improving the long-term sustainability of community seed banks and for scaling up best practices.
  • Proceedings from national level seminars.
  • Publications of different kinds, including policy briefs, reports and peer reviewed articles.

 

The partners behind DIVERSIFARM-India

DIVERSIFARM-India is carried out in collaboration between the following partners:

The project is funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New-Delhi.

 

Research team:

Dr. Regine Andersen, Research Director and Research Professor, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway (Project Leader).

Dr. R. Rengalakshmi, Director - Ecotechnology, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), India.

Viviana Meixner Vásquez, Researcher, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway.

Dr. C.M. Pratheepa,  Post-doctoral Research Fellow, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), India.

Prajeesh Parameswaran. Senior Scientist, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), India.

 

Contact:

  • Dr. Regine Andersen – randersen(a)fni.no 

  • MSSRF: Dr. Rengalakshmi. R – rengalakshmi(a)mssrf.res.in

  • ICAR-NBPGR: Contact to be provided as soon as clearance has been obtained.