From “lost” aromatic rice to green beans: this is how the community seed banks are protecting local biodiversity

Agricultural biodiversity is being lost in China, but an important source for its conservation could come from 'seed banks'

This is a relatively recent concept in China, but in recent years it has been proving to be an important source for the conservation of biodiversity in agriculture. They are the 'seed banks', and today there are 27 in the country.

La biodiversity in Chinese agriculture it is disappearing at a slow but steady pace. In an attempt to counteract it (according to the local government, it went from 11.590 different crops planted in 1956 to only 3.271 varieties left in 2014), the government has incentivized a national gene bank system to conserve the species that are slowly dying out. This explains the birth of 27 seed banks that have allowed the survival of many seeds with positive consequences on the climatic resilience of crops, on the economic well-being of peasant families, on food security.

A recent study on seed banks in China he observed that of the village of Wangjinzhuang. It is a small bank born from an association of local farmers (43 members, of which 26 women) that has grown exponentially since its foundation in 2019: the bank today conserves samples of more than one hundred varieties of seeds, including those of cereals. essential for survival such as millet, and 82 traditional varieties of the region. The members of the association have entered into an agreement between them whereby if 1 kg of seeds is sold, the bank must return a quantity of seeds equal to 1,5 kg: this allows a supply of seeds for the future that will continue to grow more and more. .

In the province of Jiangsu, on the other hand, economic development and large-scale agriculture have undermined the aquatic crops (such as rice) that characterized the area until a few decades ago. Here the seed bank has led to a gradual recovery of those traditional crops that had been abandoned - such as that of Suyunuo, an aromatic rice: the bank promoted and simplified the exchange of seeds between farmers and brought new diversity to the area through varieties obtained from the region's public gene bank. Only by collaborating with public research institutes is it possible for farmers to have access to 'forgotten' crops and adapt them to the new environmental conditions, as well as to the needs of consumers.


Credits: Frontiers

Seed banks managed at community level and the exchange of agricultural knowledge within rural communities represent the key to rediscovering a biodiversity in crops that seemed irretrievably lost on Chinese territory, and which could instead add value to exchanges. trade with cities.

Fonte: Frontiers

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