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 fourth and final in a series about community seed banks. In previous scripts, we explained the benefits of a community seed bank, how to organize people to participate in the bank, and how to collect the seeds. This script is about storing the seeds in the bank
When broadcasting this script, it is important to use examples of seed types and seed banks that are familiar to your listeners.
Talk with local farmers about different methods they use to dry and store seeds before you broadcast the script. Include the names of local varieties of seed. You can incorporate this information into your broadcast by, for example, introducing “Mrs. Kaunda, who has some tips to share with us today about drying and storing seeds.”
Today we are continuing our series on community seed banks.
In the last few [programs, days, weeks, ___________], we have learned how to decide whether your community needs a seed bank, how to find people to help with the bank, and different methods of collecting seeds for your bank.
Today’s program is about storing the seeds you have collected.
Local farmers know the best ways of storing seeds and keeping them clean and dry over long periods of time.
So ask other farmers and your neighbours for their ideas when you are ready to store seeds in the seed bank.
And remember that there are different kinds of seed banks.
In your village, the bank can be a collection of seeds stored in jars in a shed or in a public building, such as a health clinic or school.
Or it can be a collection of clay pots dug into the floor of a hut.
Or it could simply be bags of seeds on the kitchen shelf.
However you decide to store the seeds, there are three important things to do so that the seeds will grow well the following season.
- Make sure the seeds are well dried before you store them.
- Store them in the coolest place possible.
- And protect the seeds from moisture.
Remember that if your seeds get wet, too hot or too cold, or are attacked by insects, then they probably won’t produce good plants.
Dry the seeds by spreading them out on a mat or screen in a warm, shady place that is well ventillated.
Shade is important because direct sun can harm seeds.
Turn the seeds every day, so they dry evenly.
After two or three days of warm, dry weather, most seeds are ready for storage, although some might take a little longer.
Test the dryness of a seed by bending it between your fingers.
If the seed breaks, it is dry enough.
Once the seeds are dry, store them in clean, dry containers.
Jars or cans with tight fitting lids that keep out moisture work well.
You can also use clay pots or plastic pails, or even cloth bags.
If you are using cloth bags, it is a good idea to place the bags inside another container, such as a clay pot or basket.
Before you store the containers of seeds, it is very important to record information about the seeds.
You and the other farmers will need this information when you select seeds from the seed bank.
There are five pieces of information to record:
First — the name and variety of the plant from which the seed was taken.
Second — the place where the seed was collected.
Third — the name and address of the person who collected the seed and the date the seed was collected.
Fourth — any special characteristics of the plant from which the seed was taken — for example, did the plant tolerate drought, direct sunlight, wind or shade?
And finally — the general weather conditions during the season that the seeds were produced.
For example, you may write that the seed was collected in July 1999 when the weather was dry, skies were clear, and there were lots of insects.
Write all this information on a piece of paper and put it in the bag or container with the seeds.
It should also be copied onto a separate piece of paper so that there is a complete record of the seed supply in the seed bank in one place.
Keep the list up to date and organized.
Now you are ready to store the containers of seeds in the seed bank.
As I mentioned earlier, there are different ways to store the containers.
For example, you can put them in a small hole in the mud floor of your home, or in a dark shed.
The important thing to remember is that the seeds should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place — the cooler, the better.
This is because moisture and heat are the two biggest enemies of stored seeds.
If you are storing seeds in cloth bags, it is a good idea to put them inside another container.
We have learned a lot about community seed banks in this series.
Over time the seed bank will be very useful to farmers with poor harvests or damaged seed.
Remember to keep protecting rare and local varieties of crops.
They are the future of your farm and your family!
- 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.
- 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.