Community seed banks – locally governed and managed, mostly informal, organizations whose core function is to maintain seeds for local use- have been around for about 30 years. They can be found across the globe. Their forms and functions are diverse, and their histories differ. Some countries, such as Brazil, India, Nepal and Nicaragua, have a relatively large number of them – from about 100 to several hundred, although exact numbers are hard to determine. Other countries, such as Bhutan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, China, Guatemala, Rwanda and Uganda, have only a few nascent ones.
Surprisingly, despite 30 years of existence and growth, very few scientific publications can be found that review their history, evolution, experiences, successes, challenges and prospects. This seems illustrative of the general neglect of both the actual achievements of community seed banks and of the potential they have as key rural organizations led by farmers themselves, in particular but not solely, in efforts to adapt to climate change.
The book Community seed banks: origins, evolution and prospects fills this significant gap in the literature on agricultural biodiversity and conservation, farmers’ seed systems, food sovereignty and security. The book is unique in bringing together a rich compilation of 35 diverse case studies from around the world and an in-depth comparative analysis of the key aspects of the operations and viability of community seed banks. Case studies are based on a common framework and include individual community seed banks (23 cases from 19 countries), organizations that support community seed banks (seven cases) and countries with policies in support of community seed banks (five cases).