By: George Kurzom
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
In order to strengthen resilience to external challenges (climate change, Israeli occupation, etc.), the collection, preservation, reproduction and utilization of local seeds is a strategic issue of relevance to development action aimed at achieving national sovereignty over food. Local seeds can be reproduced and improved across seasons and across generations. Thus they directly feed into the effort to liberate farmers and all other population segments from food dependency on the occupation and from the monopoly of seeds and chemicals companies over farming supplies and inputs (pesticides, chemical fertilizers, water, etc.) Self-reproduction of artificial hybrid seeds is not possible and farmers will need to buy new seeds and the associated agricultural chemicals in every new season.
Furthermore, plants grown from hybrid or artificial seeds cause continuous degradation of soil fertility and require large quantities of water, whereas local seeds grow well with the local manure or compost, are pest-resistant and have little need for water. Hence they help keep the soil fertile and rich in nutrients.
In addition, it is necessary to encourage the cultivation of plants that are heat and drought resistant, can adapt to the local environment, bear fruits early enough before the dry season begins and starts to affect crops, and have little need for water, such as certain varieties of apricot, peaches and almonds, as well as to expedite the development of varieties of crops and wheat that are more tolerant to drought. It is also necessary to encourage the cultivation of traditional crops or new varieties that can tolerate heat, require little care, bring real economic, health and ecological benefits to the famers, and can be cultivated by ecological ways, such as cactus, carob, dates, sesame seeds, medical herbs and others.
It is important to avoid artificial cultivation of crops off-season. This way we will avoid facing the problem of damage to summer crops that are cultivated in winter due to extreme cold and frost.