Supporting Biodiversity Seed and Fruit Tree Actors in South Eastern Europe

In 2018, Arche Noah and Pro Specie Rara, with funding from the Gen-Ethische Foundation, launched BALKAN BEETS. This project aims to promote the conservation of crop diversity and the production of organic seeds and planting materials in South Eastern Europe. Various on-site organizations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia and Romania, each with their own set of diverse solutions adapted to their respective local context, will be supported under BALKAN BEETS until 2022 to build sustainable and economically self-sufficient systems.

BALKAN BEETS set out four different goals over its three-year lifetime:

  1. Support start-ups in creating alternatives to the use of imported industrial seeds and fruit trees
  2. Support a community seed bank in increasing their capacities to become central actors of crop biodiversity management
  3. Re-introduce endangered genetic resources collected in the “hot-spots” of crop biodiversity and embedding them into local and sustainable value chains
  4. Engaging gastronomy and tourism in crop biodiversity management to create revenues for small actors

Preserving and marketing traditional plant varieties in Albania

The leading Albanian experts on crop diversity have formed the non-profit Association for Plant Genetic Resources of Albania (APGR) in order to promote the conservation and use of Albanian landraces in close cooperation with farmers, gardeners, processors and the gastronomy. The first step includes the establishment of a training and seed propagation garden, followed by facilities for seed processing, later on new marketing channels will be developed in cooperation with local market organisers, farmers and restaurants. In the course of collecting missions, traditional varieties are furthermore searched for and documented. The aim of APGR is to raise awareness among farmers and agricultural stakeholders, policy makers and society in general on the importance of preserving and using autochthonous plant varieties.



On-farm Conservation and Farmer Based Seed Systems in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Under BALKAN BEETS, the Institute for Genetic Resources at the University of Banja Luka offers trainings to farmers to enable the on-farm propagation of seed samples with the goal of bringing these onto the market. Contents of the trainings are variety description, avoidance of seed-borne diseases as well as seed and seedling production. The program focuses on vegetables, namely Lettuce Lactuca sativa L., pepper Capsicum annuum L. and tomato Solanum lycopersicum.

Contact: The Institute of Genetic Resources of the University of Banja Luka (IGRUNIBL), Gordana Đurić,


Seed Production in Bosnia and Herzegovina

At the same time, the Factory of Joy Foundation, which already runs the Čelinac Seed Library, a local community seed bank, is aiming to found a seed production company and offer larger amounts of seeds for gardeners and farmers. Organic quality seeds are a product of high potential for the region.

Contact: Factory of Joy Foundation, Čelinac Seed Library, Vojin Kopuz,


Community Seed Bank in Bucharest, Romania

Community Seed Bank in Bucharest, Romania

For several years Adina Moise has been organizing seed-exchange events across Romania, several of such seeds belonging to local crop varieties, which have been passed down through generations. BALKAN BEETS is supporting the founding of a community seed bank called “Casa Semintelor” (House of Seeds). The seed bank will be situated in Bucharest, where Adina is also active in several community gardens.

Contact: Asociatia Romania in Tranzitie, Casa Semintelor, Adina Moise,



BA Emil Platzer
Bereichsleitung Nachhaltige Nutzung & Projektleitung BALKAN BEETS
T: +43 (0)2734 8626-228



MA Magdalena Aigner
Projekte Nachhaltige Nutzung
T: +43 (0)2734 8626-203