The Balkan Cooperation Network on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources was founded in 2021 by 15 organisations which signed a memorandum of understanding. Currently it is run on a volunteer basis, all member organisations are contributing workforce.
The board consists of four persons: Gordana Đurić (chairperson, Alica foundation, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Ivana Petrović (Ecological movement frame of life, Serbia), Kostas Koutis (AEGILOPS, Greece) and Lavdosh Ferruni (Organic Agriculture Association, Albania).
Other members are: Agricultural Research Institute (Cyprus), Arche Noah (Austria), Association for plant genetic resources (Albania), Community Local Seed Bank Bushat (Albania), Fabia CSB (North Macedonia), Institute of Plant Genetic Resources, Agricultural University Tirana (Albania), IPGR-Sadovo (Bulgaria) Lipa dooel (North Macedonia), Maritsa VCRI (Bulgaria), SITO SEEDS Network (Greece), and ZMAG - Zelena mreža aktivističkih grupa (Croatia).
The members of the network came together around the fact that a participatory and multi-sectoral collaboration in the Balkans around agrobiodiversity was relevant, due to the common geographical, social and cultural aspects of the countries in the region. Biodiversity and agricultural heritage, as well as related folk traditions, are still very rich in the Balkans and need to be preserved.
The organisation of transnational awareness-raising work for the benefit of farmers and consumers, and for climate change adaptation, food sovereignty and food security, was therefore the spearhead for the creation of the network.
The members of the network share the idea that the transition to local and organic agriculture is a force for the future. It would support the emergence of a safer agri-food system for consumers and create market opportunities for farmers. Local genetic resources are well suited to low-input agriculture and can easily be combined with more sustainable organic agriculture that respects the environment and farmers' rights.
The main objective of the Balkan Seed Network is to raise awareness to increase the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources in the Balkan and South Eastern European countries.
This is to be achieved primarily by increasing the cultivation of farmers' varieties on more farms and on larger areas.
To accelerate this process, the network intends to promote the important role of agrobiodiversity in climate change adaptation and food resilience, but also in the economic development of rural areas
Another important commitment of the network is to increase and build a policy and advocacy capacity in the European seed diversity movement thanks to the “Seed Policy Labs”.
The network offers different kind of activities:
Conservation, breeding and seed production is done by the members of the Balkan seed network. Some of them are maintaining a seed collection but we cannot provide with precise figures. All types of cultivated plants are are being maintained by the network's members. All varieties are suitable for organic agriculture and agroecology practices. Most of them offer seeds for free, some also sell seeds on fairs and markets.
See member organisations' specific websites for more information on seed collections.
Donations for the conservation of Balkans’ crop biodiversity are very helpful.
Any organisation sharing the Balkan seed network's values and objectives are very welcome to joint it.
You can contact the secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.