Keeping seeds safe
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CTA. 2007. Keeping seeds safe. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57225
Can community seed banks benefit your community?
Keeping seeds safe Cue: Seed banks are places where farmers can store their seeds within a community, for safe-keeping from natural disasters such as drought or from community conflict. Storing as a community can often be cheaper than storing as an individual, and as Mr Joseph Banda, a farmer from Coma in the Southern Province of Zambia explains, seed banking can strengthen the local community?s harvest. In the following interview, Mr Banda talks to Christopher Kakunta. He passes on this advice. In the interview, ?open-pollinated varieties? or OPV?s are mentioned. These are varieties of plants which can are pollinated by insects or bees, rather than by themselves. IN: ?When you go to some shops? OUT: ?even during the rainy season.? DUR?N: 6?15? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: That was Christopher Kakunta talking to Mr Joseph Banda, a farmer in the Southern Province of Zambia, about the need for local communities to preserve and use seed banks. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Banda When you go to some shops you could find that there are no seeds. So we thought maybe with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture and staff, we can plant the OPVs, open pollinated varieties, and keep them. We make a seed bank so that when we require the seed we plant there and then. Kakunta But for the sake of our discussion maybe let us narrow down to maize. What is the process of actually coming up with a seed bank? Banda The process is like that. You grow maize in a garden maybe in a wetland or in a field, let me just talk about the obatampa that we have. Kakunta What is obatampa? Banda It is an open-pollinated variety. Kakunta It is a maize variety? Banda It is a maize variety, yes. Kakunta Wonderful. Banda In-between plants, it is 30 centimetres, then between the rows is 90 centimetres. Kakunta So after you have planted what do you do? Banda We irrigate using treadle pumps. Kakunta When the crop has finally grown up, are there steps that you need to take to ensure that the seed is of high quality? Banda Yes. Kakunta What are these steps? Banda After planting the seed inspector comes. When the seed inspector comes he inspects the field, after inspecting the field even at cobbing level, the inspector as well comes, when the cobs are formed, even before harvesting the inspector comes so that at least he looks at the seed and how it has performed, and then he advises on how do we separate the seeds. So that is done as well. Kakunta So that is grading now. Banda Yes. Kakunta Once you have graded your seed what next? Banda After we have graded the maize, that is after we get the seed from the cob then we add a certain chemical so that at least we prevent it from being attacked from the weevils, the stalk borers, the large grain borers and the like. Kakunta So once you have done that is this a time now you are able to take the seed to the community bank? Banda Yes that is when we take it to the community bank and? Kakunta Keep it for the future? Banda Yes. Then after growing the seed people within the village or around the villages come to buy that seed at a reduced price, so we are able to market our seed as well as planting in our own fields. Kakunta Now tell me how it is to manage a seed bank? Because we are talking about 30 people how do you manage it? Banda We rotate, we have a management committee that is taking care of the same. So from there the management committee is able to determine the price of the seed with the help of MARCO, so we are able to look at the people within ourselves either to exchange it with the chicken or any other means to buy the seed so that at least they are able to get the seed at the right time that they want it. Kakunta So the seed bank is actually used as an income-generating activity at the same time to help the individual members within the group? Banda Yes it is working within that line. Kakunta Now in terms of sharing this seed, is there any mechanism that you use? Banda Yes for those that are growing the seed at least they are getting a benefit. One, the knowledge that they are getting from the growing of that seed; secondly the money that we get after selling the seed is shared depending on how much one puts in as a farmer. Kakunta You mentioned that you are about 30 in your group. Are they women as well? Banda Yes it is gender-sensitive: we involve youth, men and women. Kakunta From your own experience since you started this particular project what are some of the lessons that you have learned in terms of community seed banks? Banda When you do not have the seed, you can use the seed bank, the seed that is there in the seed bank and plant. And besides you do not waste a lot of money in buying that seed because you can buy it at a negotiable price that the committee can decide there and then. And the other thing is within the locality that you stay in you can get the seed without wasting money. Kakunta Is this a viable project? Is it something that you would encourage other farmers, other communities to get involved in, in terms of formation of farmer groups that are involved in seed banks? Banda I would encourage everyone, those that are organised to come and learn maybe from us or any other MARCO staff so that least this is really helping our community especially because this time we are even thinking of going commercial just because of the seed banks that we have at our centre. Kakunta You have actually been talking about involvement of MARCO, for the sake of our listeners, MARCO is the ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives. Do you think training is very important from the Ministry or from agricultural experts for you to manage seed banks properly? Banda Yes because those are the people that have the know-how, so in order for you to prosper and work well you should really use the officers or extension officers that are there, in order to get the guidance and the knowledge that you require as a farmer. Kakunta As we come to the end of this interview Mr Banda, could you tell me some of the key issues that you would want to share with the listeners in terms of seed banks, community seed banks? Banda Key issues that I can just advise or share with my fellow farmers is the benefit is there. At least let us all form groups that are viable, it is very important to have a seed bank around, whether you are 10, 20 or 30 that can really help as an income- generating activity, then as seed you can just get it within your locality or within the area that you are coming from. Kakunta Earlier on we talked about the Southern Province being prone to drought and farmers at the end of the day having no seed, so during the times of the drought for instance, do you go back to the seed banks? Banda That is the real benefit that we have because even if those that we plant during the rainy season do not do well, the seed that we reserved during the dry season can be found even during the rainy season. End of track.