Methodological guide ¨Diagnosis, recovery, conservation and dissemination of Creole seeds¨

Methodological guide ¨Diagnosis, recovery, conservation and dissemination of Creole seeds¨

This basic methodological guide is proposed for the recovery of seeds, with the idea of ​​providing a tool to advance in the process of recovery, conservation and production of Creole seeds and the conservation of traditional and ancestral knowledge of local communities, which includes aspects such as: participatory diagnoses to identify the different species and varieties of seeds, their main morphological characteristics, the main uses, the state of their presence and loss, the causes of loss, the identification of times of availability of seeds, the places where find them and some conservation and care practices. Likewise, practices are identified for the management and conservation of seeds after harvest, techniques and procedures to carry out the multiplication of seeds through seed banks and houses, and other community strategies for the selection and improvement of good quality seeds.


The purpose of this guide is to provide methodological tools that contribute to the strengthening of the processes of recovery, conservation and proper use of native seeds, of agroecosystems in indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities.


To develop comprehensive strategies that allow the recovery and use of creole seeds in the local communities of a region, long-term strategies and actions must be designed, including aspects such as:

  • To sensitize and make the communities aware of the situation of the conservation and loss of Creole seeds, as well as the need to implement urgent actions to recover them.
  • The largest number of people from the communities (seniors, women, youth and children) should be involved.
  • Conduct inventories of the presence and loss status of cultivated and wild native seeds, present in agroecosystems and conservation areas in the communities.
  • Design and implement strategies and actions for the recovery, conservation, multiplication and dissemination of Creole seeds, through the establishment of seed banks and houses, custodians and guardians of seeds, bartering, exchanges, fairs and local markets, among other actions.
  • Implement strategies to incorporate Creole seeds into productive systems, in local and regional food circuits for the recomposition of natural ecosystems associated with the territories of local communities.
  • Articulation of strategies and actions to protect and defend Creole seeds against the norms and laws that prohibit or limit their use by communities; and also local actions to face the negative effects generated by transgenic crops, especially by genetic contamination of landraces in local territories and communities.

Recommendations for the use of the guide

The free circulation of seeds between communities and peoples is undoubtedly the best way to recover and use seeds. For this, the multiple strategies and actions that rural communities have implemented since ancient times have been fundamental, such as bartering, exchanges, markets, meetings, where the seeds, knowledge and flavors of traditional food are shared, that as a whole fulfill their function of guaranteeing the sovereignty and food autonomy of the peoples and communities.

To use this guide it is recommended:

1) Local communities must be clear about the objectives of the seed recovery process. Define whether it is about addressing a situation of food insecurity, reestablishing or restoring agroecosystems, strengthening and diversifying productive systems, and also whether political objectives are involved for the defense and local control of seeds, among others. It is important to bear in mind that if the objectives and goals to be achieved in the recovery process of Creole seeds are not clear, which are only limited to carrying out activities to achieve a greater quantity of seeds, no significant changes will be generated in the long run. term, since a sense of ownership and local control of the process would not be achieved and in the long term the interest on the part of the communities is lost, because the recovered seeds are not static processes, they are limited to banks and collections that show only the curiosities and rarities present in agroecosystems.

2) In some regions and localities the genetic loss and erosion of native seeds presents critical and generalized situations, for which it is necessary to implement actions and strategies in the various agroecosystems of the region, through the recovery of different types of seeds; For this it is important to start the process with the diagnosis of the state of all the seeds present both in wild ecosystems and in agroecosystems. But in some cases it is only necessary to identify some seeds that present critical situations, on which it is necessary to implement recovery actions and special management.

3) It is essential that the local communities that implement seed recovery processes involve the largest number of people. It is especially important to involve women and young people and also people with more experience and knowledge about Creole seeds and with greater capacity to convene and credibility in the communities.

4) It is important to carry out a good documentation and systematization of the information compiled in the process of recovery, production and dissemination of Creole seeds; Likewise, a good photographic record of the seeds present in the region must be carried out; which allows the process to be captured in printed and audiovisual documents, which allow them to become powerful tools for work and for training processes, especially with young people.

Complementary exercises

This guide should be complemented with several activities that could be carried out previously and others that can be implemented in parallel with the local seed diagnoses. These activities include:

1) Recognition and awareness of the communities about the situation and state of loss of Creole seeds in their traditional production systems and in their region. Agreements are established with the communities on the strategies and organizational actions to implement an action and recovery plan for the lost or in danger of disappearing agrobiodiversity.

2) Carry out participatory diagnostics in the communities, to characterize the native varieties present in the territory, and to know the state of presence and loss of agrobiodiversity. Initially, the seed inventories can be done through workshops, meetings and meetings where strategically selected and representative farmers from the entire region participate, based on the information provided by all the participants. For this exercise, it is important that the largest amount of native seeds that farmers have in their plots are brought to these meetings, which would help to characterize the seeds. The largest number of people from the communities should participate in these meetings to carry out exercises to gather information on the characterization of the creole seeds, of each of the species present in the communities.

Additionally, if more detailed information is to be obtained, a plan of field visits to previously determined farms and farmers should be implemented, to have first-hand information. The tours of farms can be adjusted with the methodology of participatory rapid diagnoses, based on the tracing of representative transects, which allow identifying what types of seeds are in each space of cultivation or agricultural production of the farm. This exercise is very valuable in plots or farms that are recognized for presenting a wide agrobiodiversity in production systems. Additionally, this information should be complemented with the files in this guide, to collect the most detailed information on each of the varieties present there.

3) Timeline. An exercise can be carried out that identifies the state, evolution and loss of Creole seeds through time, from the near past by their grandparents to the present. It is important to elaborate a matrix that allows to reconstruct and remember the enormous biodiversity that was had, the forms of use and management and above all, to understand the causes for which the seeds were lost. It is important to identify the evolutionary process of the loss of Creole seeds, through time, for example, analyzing sequential periods of the last decades, analyzing the different variables of interest, such as: the types of lost or eroded seeds, the causes and effects, the public policies implemented, the development and production models that have been imposed, the technologies implemented such as hybrid and transgenic seeds, mechanization, and the use of agrochemicals, financial mechanisms in the rural sector, food changes , organizational processes and political dynamics, among other aspects.

To access the Guide (PDF) click on the link below and download the file:

Semillas Group

Seen in Biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean

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