Sustainable Seed Innovation Round-table

Event objective: to understand the challenges to achieving sustainable seed innovation and to determine what can be done to help farmers innovate.

Historically farmers selected the best seeds, saved them from one season to another and exchanged seeds with other farmers. Periodically new varieties developed through this system of cultivation, seed selection, and exchange.  India’s incredible agro-biodiversity is not just due to environmental conditions, but also the innovation of farmers over thousands of years.

Traditional agriculture in the fullest sense involves sustainable seed innovation.

Sustainable seed innovation requires: i) the conservation of traditional varieties and ii) farmer innovation of new varieties through seed selection. Genetic material can be preserved through seed banks (ex-situ conservation), while cultivation of traditional varieties ensures continual adaptation to local conditions (in-situ conservation). Groups supporting traditional agricultural practices and the farmers following these practices have achieved the first step of sustainable seed innovation. The second step of innovating new varieties happens less often and does not receive the recognition and encouragement deserved.

The Sustainable Seed Innovation Round-table has two parts.

Part 1: Presentations – The Current State of Seed Innovation

The preliminary results of our research will be presented to those in attendance including farmers interviewed for the research project. The farmers will be given an opportunity to provide feedback and discuss views on the preliminary results. In addition, invited speakers will present on the current challenges and successes of seed innovation in India from legal, practical, and cultural perspectives.

Part 2: Round-table Discussion – Encouraging Sustainable Seed Innovation

A moderated round-table discussion will include researchers, educators, government, plant-breeders, and non-governmental organizations. The round-table will make recommendations and decide on future actions to encourage sustainable seed innovation.

A schedule for the event will be posted here on the 14th of August.

The event will take place on Friday the 15th of September at  The Art of Living International Center, Bangalore, India.

The Sustainable Seed Innovation Round-table concludes a collaborative research project between the Center for Sustainable Development – Art of Living Foundation, University of Leeds, and Dr. Nalini Kochupillai from the Max-Planck Institute of Innovation and Competition. We wish to thank the UK Humanities and Research Council for funding this project.