News like this gives me great hope that we are wising up and moving away from mono-cultures and industrial farming.
HYDERABAD: To preserve indigenous seed varieties and also promote organic farming, the state bio-diversity board will soon open over 110 seed banks across the two states. With the requisite budgets sanctioned for this pilot project, the board is all set to start the programme in the coming weeks.
The concept is inspired by the activities of a Karnataka-based NGO which was able to do the same in a small scale. A similar project is underway in Gujarat too.
‘’The idea is to start one such seed bank in every village. Farmers can take seeds of various traditional crop varieties free of cost and return double the seeds to the bank after cultivation,” said R Hampaiah, chairman, AP State Biodiversity Board. The board has proposed to open about 60 seed banks in Andhra Pradesh and about 50 in Telangana.
‘’This will not only preserve the local varieties of crops but also promote organic farming, which will in turn reduce the cost of cultivation and yield better output and returns,’’ chairman of the board said adding that huge numbers of farmer suicides in the region was a result of farmers resorting to cultivation of crops not suitable for their region.
According to him, the yield and quality in modern day agriculture were unfortunately inversely proportional though a very small number of farmers practice low cost agriculture and ensure better prices for their yield. The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) of the respective villages will also be provided aid to market these varieties so that more and more farmers are encouraged to sow indigenous varieties, he said.
In a recent study titled “Seed Freedom: A Global Citizens Report,” Shiva’s research showed the ways that genetic contamination is rapidly spreading and, specifically, how India has lost organic cotton seed varieties due to contamination by Bt Cotton. The report also points to other places, like Mexico, facing similar challenges.
“Mexico, the historical cradle of corn, has lost eighty percent of its corn varieties,” according to the report. It is in the face of this global scourge, Shiva hopes, that organic seed banks will help create a different future.
Worldwide, these banks operate on various scales, with distinct forms of operations and funding. SeedSavers.org, for instance, offers an alternative model to biotech-fueled agriculture through “participatory preservation of organic seeds” among its members to ensure the planet maintains a “genetically diverse food supply.” The group, headquartered in Decorah, Iowa, operates one of the largest seed banks in North America where it works with farmers and gardeners to secure heirloom varieties of seeds. Continue reading →
Hal Walter at the Pueblo Cheiftanintroduces us to the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers, who, in addition to providing farm-fresh vegetables, are supporting other behind-the-scenes farming activities, including the development of regionally adapted seed varieties.
With corporations developing genetically modified organisms and patenting plant DNA, the question of seed quality is of utmost importance for all who want to make their own decisions about what they eat. And the development of seeds that are adapted to our regional growing conditions is paramount to food security on a local level.
While AVOG farmers are working to provide farm-fresh food throughout the season, they’re also working with their eyes to the future on various seed projects.
At Hobbs Family Farm near Avondale, seeds are a focus for Dan Hobbs and Jamie Dunston, who are aiming for 60 varieties of seed offerings. In addition to many other seed crops, a focus this year is on two dry beans — Hopi Black and Bolita — that are regionally adapted to the Southwest, and two varieties of green beans — Provider and Jade. In addition they are developing reliable overwintering leeks and a Crimson Sweet watermelon, as well as Calendula and Zinnia flower seeds.
At Family Roots Farm in Canon City, Beki Javernick-Guion is running trials on 20 types of tomatoes, Provider green beans and German pole beans.
At Venetucci Farm in Colorado Springs and Frost Farm near Fountain, two types of beans are undergoing trials, including a Red Kidney bean and a Jacobs Cattle bean.