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The Women Keepers of Agricultural Biodiversity Seeds Project Conserve Creole Plants 

The Bijagó ethnic group inhabit several islands of the archipelago, a UNESCO biosphere reserve off the west African Atlantic coast. The Urok Islands have been designated a community marine protected area since 2005. About 3,000 people live there. Creole seeds have been passed from generation to generation and are vital for the survival of the Bijagós. These are varieties and species, from corn to rice and peanut, that resist pests and the region’s fierce climate, which is getting more intense due to global heating. The project has already trained more than 150 women in seed care, with 12 women elected as head seed keepers. Since the beginning of the intervention in the Urok Islands, diversification of food production has helped hundreds of women and their families gain greater autonomy and strengthened female leadership, says Beatriz Lopes, a mother of nine and a celebrated cook in her tabanka.