From: owner-sard-room3
Subject: Paper 10. Virginia Nazarea Sandova
Date: Thursday, December 07, 1995 2:38PM

Cultural Alternatives in In Situ Germplasm Conservation 
a Philippine Case
Dr. Virginia Nazarea Sandoval
In situ germplasm conservation, was intended to take the memory banking 
initiative one step further in two parallel and complementary directions: 1) 
transferring the main responsibility for documenting indigenous agricultural 
knowledge from researchers to farmer-custodians and 2) moving the germplasm 
collection even closer to the source by forging a partnership between 
scientists and users in the establishment and maintenance of in situ 
germplasm collections.  Another objective was to document and compare two 
novel approaches to in situ gene banking.  One is through a male political 
hierarchy based on traditional notions of power and control.  The other is 
through an informal network of migrant women based on a more or less 
egalitarian camaraderie or informal networks.
After visiting several possible sites in Bukidnon and talking with the local 
population to explore the possibility of establishing an in situ gene bank 
for traditional root crops, tow sites Dalwangan in Malaybalay and Maambong 
in Libona were selected.  In choosing the sites de foremost considerations 
were the possibility of comparing results on several dimensions and the 
prospect of sustaining the project initiative at the local level.  In 
Dalwangan, the populations is predominantly composed of native Bukidnons who 
cultivate three major cash crops -- corn, coffee, and abaca.  Production of 
root crops is less commercialized and the local farmers still reserve much 
of their produce for subsistence.  On the other hand, Maambong is populated 
by Visayan migrants from Bohol and Cebu and many farmers are engaged in a 
moderately commercialized production of sweet potatoes in addition to corn 
which is the major crop.
The name of this project component is derived from a native Binukid  term 
meaning  Livelihood for the People .  The name was coined by the local 
leadership to signify the incorporation of income-generating activities such 
as goat, chicken, and swine raising into the maintenance of indigenous 
varieties of root crops.  This project component was based in Dalwangan, 
Malaybalay and was organized and managed in collaboration with the local 
male political leadership comprised of village chieftains ( datus ), council 
of elders, and organized youth.
Eventually, the maintenance of the Dalwangan root crop gene bank became the 
day-to-day responsibility  of the female kins of the datu s brother s 
household, with male participation mostly confined to land preparation. 
 When the long, dry season decimated the germplasm collection, one of the 
women  rescued  a third of the varieties and established her own  gene bank  
in the form of a home garden.  Other women followed suit, planting cuttings 
of different varieties in their respective homegardens.  These cuttings came 
from the Dalwangan in situ collection, the nearby International Potato 
Center (CIP) local gene bank, and the Maambong in situ collection which they 
visited.  Essentially, therefore, what started as a male authority-enforced 
group curatorship disintegrated in favor of a patchwork of 
multiple-curatorship, homegarden-style collections established and 
maintained by the women of Dalwangan.
In Maambong, the local gene banking effort was pursued with a light-hearted 
communal spirit from the planning up to the maintenance of the collection. 
 Men and children joined in the land preparation and planting, both of which 
were completed in one day.  Interest was sustained by the camaraderie that 
prevailed among the women curators.  The informal network that we started 
with the migrant women comprising the  Inahan sa Makugihan  became more and 
more complex with multiple links established among gene bank collaborators. 
 Lydia vda de Caceres, the donor of the land became a moral rather than a 
political/organizational leader, encouraging participation mainly by example 
and by enjoining neighbors, friends, and kins to fulfill their reciprocal 
We anticipated that the root crop germplasm collection in Maambong will grow 
by flow and accretion of germplasm through different  pathways  such as 
blood relations, ceremonial kinship, and exchange between market associates. 
 As it turned out, the main source of germplasm enhancement was exchange 
between neighbors.  Thus, any variety that was obtained by a participant was 
shared until it spread among all or almost all of them (Prain and Piniero, 
1994).  The resulting redundancy constitutes a natural back-up system in 
case of loss of cultivars in any of the rows of the in situ gene bank.  It 
also demonstrates that there is a well-entrenched cultural ethic of sharing 
coupled with an active interest in soliciting when it comes to plant genetic 
resources, at least in terms of food crops.  Finally, it shows that communal 
in situ gene banks do not compete with homegardens but rather that the two 
forms of local germplasm conservation can actually enrich and reinforce each 
In situ gene banking is a promising channel of genetic conservation that 
could prove compatible with ex situ gene banking and with development if it 
is pursued with full regard to its historical, cultural, and institutional 
context.  It is a practice that already exists in the form of homegardens, 
polycultures, and traditional agrosystems.  The point is to make the 
conservation component more systematic, sustainable, and intrinsic and to 
link it to imperatives beyond the local, even regional, scale.  Farmers have 
historically nurtured diversity in the microenvironments they control and 
thus may need institutional support but certainly not institutional mandate 
to continue doing so.
One contribution that memory banking can make to the conservation of 
biodiversity is that it will not allow us to forget that options are 
available, that viable alternatives have existed through time and space, and 
that local evaluation criteria, in addition to agronomic and scientific 
ones, are also important and need to be seriously considered.  The key is to 
document agricultural knowledge in such a way that the local population has 
the ultimate control over access - the authors who possess the copyright and 
who will have a say in determining the terms of sharing and exchange.  In 
this manner, they can utilize conventions that exist in the global 
marketplace to their advantage instead of being talked about and talked over 
in negotiations that are supposedly for their welfare.  Work is ongoing in 
this direction.  In the meantime, I am reminded of a line from a Bukidnon 
epic, the Olaging:
     If we pass there
     This we shall pass
     This we shall traverse again
Hopefully, the path - or paths - will be impact in the event that humanity 
need to traverse them again.