Script 56.7

Notes to broadcasters

A seed bank protects local crops which may be rare or especially well-adapted to local conditions.  It is an emergency seed source if crops fail due to disease, pests, or bad weather.  This script is the third in a series about community seed banks.  In parts one and two, we explained how a community seed bank can protect rare and local varieties of crops, and how to organize people in your community to run the seed bank.  This script gives some methods for collecting seeds for the seed bank.

Wherever possible in this series, include discussions with local farmers about the varieties of crops they grow, how they save their seeds, and traditional methods of seed storage.  Encourage them to share their information with other farmers through your broadcast.



Today, we are continuing our series on community seed banks.

In previous programs, we talked about how seed banks protect local varieties of crops, and the importance of finding people in your community who will share the work of running the bank.

The next part of building a seed bank is to collect the seeds.

First, you will have to decide which seeds you want to collect.

Save seeds from crops, as well as wild plants, and from those plants which you know only grow in your area.

Remember to include different or rare varieties of staple crops, as well as seeds from trees and plants which are used as medicines, food, and fuelwood.

The next step is to carefully organize seed collection.

Approach farmers and neighbours for some of their extra seed.

Remember that farmers must first collect enough seed for their own use.

Never take seed from farmers without their permission.

Collect whatever seed farmers can spare.


To make sure that you get both diversity and special qualities in the seed you collect, you should choose seeds three different ways.

First, look for seeds from plants that have particular characteristics that you like.

For example, you might collect seeds from plants that stayed small, because they will need less water to grow.

Or you might choose plants with multiple seed heads, or plants whose pods or grain heads are large.

You might also look for plants that suffered less pest damage than others.

If you grow potatoes, save some of your best to store for next year’s crop.

Second, choose seeds from plants that are different from each other.

Pick seeds from plants of different colours, sizes, or with differently shaped leaves.

Finally, you should select some seeds from each area of the field, and from many different plants.

Picking seeds from plants with special qualities that you like helps to improve your crops from year to year.

And choosing some seeds that are slightly different from others in the field provides the diversity you need for a good harvest.

Tune in to our next broadcast [tomorrow, next week, on __________] to learn about the best ways to store the seeds you have collected.

– END –


  • Contributed by: Dr. Helen Hambly Odame, Associate Officer, International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), The Hague, The Netherlands.
  • Reviewed by: Hélène Chiasson, Urgel-Delisle & associés inc, Québec, Canada.

Information Sources

  • Community Seed Bank Kit, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), PO Box 655, Pittsboro, North Carolina 27312, USA.
  • Growing Diversity: Genetic resources and local food security, edited by David Cooper, Renée Vellvé and Henk Hobbelink, 1992, 166 pages. Intermediate Technology Publications, 103/105 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4HH, United Kingdom.