Script 56.3

Notes to broadcasters

Crops used by small-scale farmers are being lost due to monocropping and the use of improved varieties and hybrids. To address this problem, the Permaculture Trust of Botswana (PTB) has set up a community seed bank program. It has identified some regions in the country where farmers still use local varieties of crops. The main crops conserved in this program are sorghum, maize and varieties of pearl millet, although pulses and nuts are also conserved.

This script describes two traditional methods of seed storage used by farmers participating in the seed bank program.We suggest that you produce your own programs that feature traditional methods of seed storage used by members of your audience. If possible, invite farmers to come to the radio station and participate in group discussions and interviews about their seed storage methods.



Farmers in Botswana use many traditional methods of storing seeds.

They include:

  • Woven baskets
  • Bins made of cow dung and wood ash
  • Earthen pots
  • Mud granaries


Do you use baskets to store your seed grain?

The people in Botswana, a country in Africa, do.

They weave grass together very tightly to make the baskets. Then they bind the baskets with palm leaves, strips of shredded plastic, and bark from wild berry shrubs.

The baskets have a wide base and are very large.
They can be as tall as the shoulders of an adult and are as wide as outstretched arms.

The opening to the basket is big enough for a child to go through to fetch the stored grain.

To protect the grain from insects, the farmer adds wood ash or some ash from burned goat dung once the grain is placed inside the basket.



Now you’re going to hear about another kind of container used by farmers in Botswana to store seeds.

It is made from cow dung and wood ash.

How does a farmer make a bin like this?

The farmer mixes cow dung and wood ash together, until the mixture is stiff enough to be molded into shape.

The first thing to make with the mixture is a flat base.

Then the farmer uses the cow dung and wood ash mixture to make thin strips like bricks.

These strips are added in layers, one by one, to make the shape of a bucket or earthen pot.

The process is very slow, as each layer is placed and allowed to dry before the next layer can be added.

When the bin is complete it is left for a few days to dry.

When it is completely dry, the farmer places seeds in the bin and mixes them with wood ash or ash from goat dung.

He then closes the bin with a lid and seals it with more cow dung mixed with wood ash.


Today I’ve described two methods that farmers use to store seeds in Botswana.

We thank the Permaculture Trust of Botswana for sharing farmers’ knowledge with us.

Now I’d like to know what you think of these seed storage methods.

How do they compare with your methods?

Please contact us here at the radio station if you have some good ideas about storing seeds to share with other listeners.

– END –


Contributed by: Gaokgabelwe Dorothy Ndaba, Seed Bank Officer, Permaculture Trust of Botswana (PTB), Botswana, Africa. PTB has established a seed bank program to spread and enhance the multiplication, selection, conservation and distribution of open-pollinated seed by small-scale farmers. In this program, conservation is mainly centred on sorghum, maize and pearl millet varieties.