Rare Variety Demonstrations

DSC03503 resizedHere, GREEN initiates interested farmers to set aside plots of land for the cultivation of rare, indigenous varieties that were once in much wider use, but which have now all but disappeared from localities. As many of these indigenous cultivars may be new to community members, often as a result of decades of biodiversity loss, we support farmers throughout the growing season with the knowledge and resources necessary for cultivation. Demo plots are a form of facilitated in-situ conservation that help enrich the biodiversity of communities. Seeds harvested are used to replenish community seed banks and GREEN’s gene bank, as well as distributed throughout an area.

Going beyond this however, rare variety demonstrations play a veryDSC02749 resized important part in raising awareness of indigenous cultivars and their useful qualities within a community. The advantage is that they do this through demonstrable results, visible to all. By cultivating rare varieties in their own plots, farmers are privy to an experiential understanding of the best practices for cultivation, long lost in community memory. Such a participatory process of learning helps build a resource base of information within a community from which knowledge can be disseminated. This means that a community will not only be enriched by access to good quality seeds, but also equipped with knowledge crucial for their continued cultivation. Preserving this knowledge and spreading awareness of the benefits and uses of indigenous varieties is, perhaps, as important to restoring the biodiversity loss in India as conservation of indigenous seeds.

36 resizedA field day organized under the facilitation of GREEN marks the culmination of rare variety demonstrations. Considered in many ways a celebration of biodiversity, farmers from surrounding areas are invited to the field days to exchange information and assess the qualities of each variety. This enables many community members who may be unaware of indigenous varieties to see first-hand their characteristics and advantages.