The Value of Traditional Seeds for Small Farmers
Here is a highly informative video that explains the value of traditional seeds to many small farmers in India.
When the Government of India pushed farmers to switch to Green Revolution technologies in the 1960s and 70s, it encouraged farmers to stop using traditional varieties of rice and replace them with high yielding hybrid varieties. Many farmers quickly learned, however, that hybrid varieties required large amounts of chemical inputs to grow and could not grow in drought or excessively wet conditions. When droughts, weak monsoons, storms, and other climactic crises did occur, hybrid varieties failed to grow, and small farmers were devastated. They face crushing debt, eviction, poverty, and hundreds of thousands have committed suicide to escape their misery.
Many farmers that were unable or refused to switch to hybrid seeds are weathering climate change in a very different way. Instead of growing only one form of rice over the years, these farmers stored the seeds of traditional varieties of rice. India is home to hundreds of traditional varieties, and each has been naturally selected by farmers to respond to specific climactic and environmental conditions. The small farmers in this video use the natural genetic diversity of traditional rice varieties to manage the challenged posed by climate change and land degradation.
Natural genetic diversity is an essential tool for small farmers, and they greatly benefit from local seed banks that provide diverse varieties to farmers at minimal or no cost.