Old varieties for more diversityThe European project Farm Seed Opportunities (FSO), which ran from 2006 to 2009, has contributed to an effective use of old and forgotten varieties to increase agricultural biodiversity. The project has also identified legal hurdles for the marketing of these varieties. Furthermore, project members have formulated recommendations for improving the regulations. The project was a collaborative effort of research institutes and grower groups from six European countries. Funded by the EU, Foundation 'Zaadgoed' and the Ekhagastiftelsen Fund, the Louis Bolk Institute was one of the participating institutes.
Valuing farmers' knowledge of old local varietiesGrowers and consumers are increasingly interested in old, local varieties. Growers of such varieties can distinguish themselves in the market with products that 'tell a story'. In field trials of the FSO project, old local varieties were grown next to modern varieties and assessed for their suitability and adaptability. The ultimate objective of the FSO project was to bring old varieties from the gene bank into cultivation, and onto the market. This way the project has contributed to increased agrobiodiversity - both in farmers' field and on consumers' plates.
European collaborationIn the FSO project the Louis Bolk Institute has collaborated with, among others, the French INRA, the Italian AIAB, the Spanish RAS, the Swiss FiBL, and the Dutch PRI and WUR.
A publication related to this project: Farm Seed Opportunities: Conservation, breeding and production.