A good deal for agrarian diversity

As in the good times of the old agrarian relations, the Conselleria d’Agricultura (Regional Department of Agriculture) of the Valencian government offers a deal to the land labourers interested in preserving diversity in the field: traditional horticultural seeds in exchange for information. The department delivers seeds of traditional varieties in exchange for the fact that these are grown and the return of information about its agronomic performance. This way, the conservation of phylogenetic resources in the field is achieved and the increase of data on the harvests is useful.

We already talked about the Valencian Plan for Agricultural Diversity in the 95th issue of Mètode, and now we can say that it is fully operative, because the Valencian Catalogue of Traditional Varieties of Agricultural Interest has been recently presented, and interested farmers can find the seeds they need. It includes 45 files describing classic varieties from our gardens and plantations, chosen among the most interesting ones, described both with general and technical information, and designed also so that consumers can recognise them easily.

«Seeds are given without a price, but they have a high value that must be respected»

The deal, as we have said, is seeds in exchange for information and a practical understanding of the field to improve the knowledge of the varieties recovered, grown in real conditions and in each region. They get authentic crops from which they can take new seeds from the best plants and sow again, repeating this basic process for selecting and adapting the variety to each specific territory, as our ancestors have always done.

The department gives the seeds free of charge as was done in the past – as land labourers of our region gave them for the Catalogue – looking into the recipient, assessing whether they will make good use of them, because the seeds are not given for no reason: there are many years of monitoring, selection, and care of these grains that are property of the family and the village. They are given without a price, but they have a high value that must be respected.

The administration is also committed to farmers to disseminate and promote among the entire Valencian society this common heritage which is the wealth of the crops that feed us, so that citizens and consumers know and order them, which might create a market that makes land cultivation a viable job for the farmer, who would not grow these varieties only out of love for tradition.

Cabbage seeds.

A suitable place for selfless growing is personal and leisure gardens, where there is no need to have a profit. This way, one can help preserve old varieties and at the same time enjoy the best possible food, combining maximum quality and the basis of our cuisine, our traditional diet.

The department’s deal is verbal, as in ancient times, but it will also be written and signed in a document that, for example, will help organic growers demonstrate traceability of the seeds, since they have to guarantee of their environment-friendly origin. All the seeds of the Catalogue have been produced following this crop cultivation system.

The Catalogue is accessible on the website of the Department of Agriculture and the seeds are available at the agricultural experimental stations of Elx, Carcaixent, and Vila-real, and in the Centre for Forestry Research and Experimentation (CIEF) of Quart de Poblet. So… Do we have a deal?

Come on, you got a deal!

© Mètode 2019 - 100. The challenges of science - Online only (2019)

Agrarian technician. Experimental Agrarian Station of Carcaixent.