Small community, great visions

Earlier this year, Pitambar Shrestha, Ronnie Vernooy and Inger Haugsgjerd visited the east of Nepal to learn more about community seeds banks. Inger reports about the visit. 

Story by Inger Haugsgjerd

In a small ward of the Village Development Committee (VDC) of Tamaphok in the eastern district of Sankhuwasabha , Nepal, we met a group of enthusiastic farmers and conservationists. A VDC is the lowest government administrative unit in Nepal. Despite new challenges constantly disturbing these farmers’ efforts to maintain and distribute seeds among the locals, they stick to the point.

Photo: Inger Haugsjerd

Photo: Inger Haugsgjerd

In the VDC, there is already a Community Seed Bank (CSB) which was built four years ago with technical and financial support from LI-BIRD (Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development). LI-BIRD facilitated the initiation of a Biodiversity Community Development Committee (BCDC) at both ward and village level like they have done with 30 other BCDC’s in 16 of Nepal’s 75 districts. In the process of establishing the CSB, the BCDC gave each of the nine wards of Tamaphok the responsibility of conserving a certain type of crop. This work led to an unforeseen encouragement of the people in ward number five. The topography of the area and the size of the VDC hinder easy collection, management and distribution of seed in the Community Seed Bank and some community members have to walk five hours to reach it. To overcome these constraints and meet the needs of ward five, a handful of eager farmers started their own Community Seed Bank with some support from the VDC level BCDC. In the beginning, diversity kits of gourd, pea, chilly and beans were distributed to the members. The CSB preserves and distributes cereal and vegetable seeds. The Community Seed Bank is particularly important for the purpose of storing vegetables that freeze during winter in the VDC level CSB. Continue reading