In-situ and Ex-situ Conservation
Conservation of indigenous seed varieties has been at the core of the Foundation’s work since it first began in 1994. In the early years, GREEN staff travelled scores of miles in their search for rare seed varieties. And each time a new variety was found, it was brought eagerly back to the research farm in Thalli for multiplication and further experimentation. These early trials formed the firm basis of the Foundation’s conservation efforts. Today, scores of indigenous crop and vegetable varieties have been re-introduced in farming areas where they had all but disappeared. Increasing numbers of farmers are now reverting to the cultivation of these varieties and the low-input sustainable agriculture they require.
Our conservation efforts can be broken down into two categories:
in-situ and ex-situ conservation
This is on-farm conservation, where farmers themselves conserve these seeds for cultivation in their farms. One particular advantage of in-situ conservation is that it also allows for the evolutionary process of crop-adaptation. It also gives farmers more control over their genetic resources. There are several initiatives that encourage in-situ conservation.
Defined as off-farm conservation, where indigenous varieties are stored in repositories outside the farm, ex-situ conservation is an important initiative of GREEN. Ex-situ conservation excludes the critical role of farmers as conservers and selectors of seeds, which has historically added great value to the development of well-adapted indigenous varieties that have evolved in their natural surroundings.