Biodiversity Conservation Initiatives

DSC03506 resizedGREEN’s work with small scale and marginal farmers is based on the understanding that biodiversity is essential for smallholder agriculture. Indigenous seed varieties are well suited to local climatic conditions, require fewer inputs than their hybrid counterparts and have good resistance to local pests and diseases. One particularly advantageous feature is that they respond well to organic preparations made at home, which provides farmers with an economically viable option to adopt sustainable agriculture practices and organic farming methods.
Despite these advantages however, biodiversity loss in the districts of Ramanagara and Chitradurga has been extensive over the years. The various types of indigenous varieties initially present, their uses, characteristics and methods of cultivation have been forgotten in the memories of communities. Moreover, seed saving, which was traditionally an DSC04988 resizedintegral part of farm management and entrusted to women in the family, has fallen out of practice. Farmers today, convinced that indigenous varieties will fail to meet family requirements, largely prefer to buy hybrid or ‘packet’ seeds, which they believe will provide better yields.

Our biodiversity conservation initiatives aim to change this mindset and raise awareness among farmers of the benefits of indigenous varieties. GREEN’s strategy involves promotion of both in-situ and ex-situ conservation not just
within individual farming families, but in communities as a whole. At the heart of these endeavours are the women who make this possible. Traditionally responsible for seed saving within families, we consider women to be custodians of biodiversity. In fact, in our experience, it is the women, in many cases, who first take up the initiative to restore biodiversity and actively promote the cultivation of indigenous seeds. All of the initiatives therefore, harness this potential of women farmers to bring about significant changes in their region and reintroduce biodiversity conservation in their communities.

Community Seed Banks

Set up and managed by interested farmers in a community, particularly women farmers, Community Seed Banks (CSBs) form a cornerstone of our biodiversity conservation initiatives. GREEN initiates the set up of CSBs, training farmers on seed storage and treatment methods, maintenance of the seed bank etc. The CSBs are a form of ex-situ conservation, where seed saving takes place by the communities as a whole. Read more about them here.

Rare Variety Demonstrations
A form of facilitated in-situ conservation, where we encourage interested farmers to set aside plots of land for cultivation of rare varieties, these demonstrations help raise awareness of indigenous seeds in a community. Read more about them here.

Kitchen gardens
Kitchen gardens encourage seed saving of vegetable varieties within farming families, strengthening not only food security, but also seed security. Read more about them here.

Gene bank
This is a repository of indigenous variety seeds that GREEN maintains. Containing more than 100 varieties of paddy, minor millets, pulses, vegetables, among others, it is the cumulative result of years of our efforts to source and reintroduce indigenous varieties back into agrarian communities.