Community gene/seed banks first appeared toward the end of the 1980s established with the support of international and national non-government organizations. Countries that pioneered various types of community gene/seed banks include Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Nepal, Brazil. In the North, a particular type of community gene/seed banks emerged known as seed savers network. Pioneering seed savers networks were established in the USA, Australia, Canada and the UK. Over time the number of all kinds of gene/seed banks has grown.
In Nepal, for example, there are now more than one hundred self-described community seed banks. A first national workshop on community seed banks was organized from 14 to 15 June 2012 with the aim to bring community seed bank practitioners together to develop a common understanding on the concept (and practices), elaborate a typology in the Nepalese context, and identify future activities. Other specific objectives were: to review the working modalities of community seed banks in Nepal, explore ex situ and in situ links and related policy issues; identify challenges and opportunities of community seed banks, and to promote future collaboration and networking among relevant organizations in Nepal.
The workshop brought together about 40 farmers, NGO/INGO staffs, high level government officials and scientists from Bioversity International. In the workshop, community seed bank practitioners shared their experiences and lessons learned. The workshop report summarizes the main issues discussed.