Diversity Field School
Crop genetic diversity is one of the few resources available to resource-poor farmers and women to ensure sustainable livelihoods and food and nutritional security. Community-based collective action, with an emphasis on agency, participation and empowerment, is the key working approach employed by the Local Crop Project to mobilize natural capital such as crop genetic diversity. It tries to utilize the lessons and experiences from: community-based biodiversity management, farmer field school and diversity field fora to create an approach of diversity field school.
Diversity Field School is a community based knowledge and action platform that facilitates the use and maintenance of diversity in the production system both as a way of risk minimization (from pest & disease damage or climate variability) as well as providing farmers access to knowledge, planting materials, credit and networks. While this platform can take various forms depending on local context, the Local Crop Project is envisioning capable community institution in the form of a community seed bank (CSB) as the platform of diversity field school.
The Agriculture Development and Conservation Society (ADCS) formed in 2003 is the second community seed bank to be established in Nepal and the first from the involvement of the project partner organizations, LI-BIRD, NARC and Bioversity. Following the success of ADCS, LI-BIRD has facilitated establishment of another 14 CSBs across Nepal. Work of other organizations and government programmes have lead to establishment of over 120 CSBs across the country. As time has passed new challenges in terms of sustaining and managing the community institutions are emerging, especially in terms of scientific know-how of seed management and distribution, leadership transition and financing. The diversity field school approach will try to address the technical and scientific aspect of agricultural biodiversity management and in the process try to see if this will be able to generate enough old and young leaders and a culture of leadership transition that will allow the community institutions to continue to innovate, adapt and flourish into the future.