Community seed banks: concept and practice. Facilitator handbook.

Over three decades, a number of international and national organizations have provided technical and financial support to community seed banks around the world. To our knowledge, only a few of these organizations have developed and published a practical guide about how they have offered this support. LI-BIRD is one such organization, but their community seed bank guide is in the Nepali language. To fill this gap, we offer this handbook, which is based on our own experience, but also takes into consideration what other colleagues have accomplished to advance research and capacity development regarding community seed banks. The handbook is organized as a guide for facilitators — people who work in the field with farmers and their organizations on issues of seed conservation and sustainable use.

The methodological approach that we promote is based on participatory learning, where facilitators and learners interact actively, make use of their experience, and learn together. Lecturing is kept to a minimum. Most of the learning takes place through dynamic exercises in which learners are invited to use and reflect on their own experience and/or on the experience of others (captured in practical case studies, for example). These experiences can cover any aspect of agricultural and rural development that involves farmers. You can find the handbook here:

The handbook is organized in nine modules, as follows:

Module 1, Steps and processes in establishing and supporting a community seed bank, presents a logical sequence of the major steps involved.

Module 2, Trends in agricultural biodiversity, introduces two tools to assess the current abundance (richness) and distribution (evenness) of local agricultural biodiversity in farming communities at the level of crop species and crop variety, and to trace and analyze trends over time.

Module 3, The multiple functions and services of community seed banks, offers an analytical framework for deciding on the objectives of a community seed bank and organizing possible core activities: conservation, access and availability, and seed and food sovereignty.

Module 4, Technical issues involved in operating community seed banks, defines the key principles and practices for the effective operations of a community seed bank from a technical point of view.

Module 5, Governance and management, looks at how community seed banks are dealing with governance and aspects of management, including costs.

Module 6, Support and networking, discusses the importance of providing sound technical and organizational support to a community seed bank and what roles network building and networking can play.

Module 7, Policies and laws that influence the establishment and operations of community seed banks, gives an overview of the institutional and regulatory environments that can affect a community seed bank, its viability, and its sustainability.

Module 8, Viability and sustainability of a community seed bank, analyzes the key dimensions of viability and sustainability and how they can be addressed in practice.

Module 9, Preparing a generic plan for establishing and supporting a community seed bank, concludes the handbook by presenting a framework to help farmers and supporting organizations develop a start-up plan.

In the final section of the handbook, you will find a complete list of the Reading and resources listed in each module as well as two Annexes. In Annex 1 you will find complete Learner instructions to be copied and distributed to participants, and in Annex 2, the Quiz answers for each module.

For more information, contact: Ronnie Vernooy,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s