Sistemas de información geográfica para un mejor manejo de la información sobre la diversidad genética de nuestros cultivos

Por William Solano (CATIE, Costa Rica)

Dentro del proyecto “Fortalecimiento de capacidades nacionales para implementar el Tratado Internacional sobre los Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura” organizamos un taller llamado “Sistemas de semillas resilientes: herramientas para el análisis y la adaptación de los cultivos al cambio climático”. El taller se celebró en el Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), en Turrialba, Costa Rica, del 5 al 7 de Marzo. Las sesiones se centraron en diferentes instrumentos para el manejo y el análisis de información geográfica y climatológica.

El Taller contó con la participación de un grupo de 26 investigadores de Guatemala y Costa Rica directamente relacionados con la conservación y el uso de recursos fitogenéticos de cultivos de importancia alimenticia para nuestra región tales como: frijol, maíz, arroz, papa, entre otros. A pesar que muchos de ellos contaban con gran experiencia en la conservación y el mejoramiento genético de éstos cultivos, para la gran mayoría era la primera vez que utilizaba herramientas de sistemas de información geográfica para hacer análisis de diversidad espacial, distribución de especies, climas análogos; o bien, conocer la existencia de bases de datos mundiales de germoplasma. Image   Fueron tres días en los que se recibió mucha información por parte de un grupo de expertos muy capacitados en estos temas. Al final, el grupo logró comprender la importancia que éstas herramientas pueden tener en sus actividades y  solicitaron tener otro taller para profundizar algunos aspectos que consideraron muy útiles y a la vez utilizar sus propias bases de datos para los análisis con dichas herramientas. Image

Notification from Treaty Secretariat – Call for proposals 2014

The Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture have announced on their web site:

Call for Proposals 2014: Benefit-sharing Fund

Any governmental or non-governmental organization, including farmers and farmers’ organizations, genebanks and research institutions, as well as regional and international organizations, based in eligible countries that are Contracting Parties to the International Treaty, may apply for grants under the Third Call for Proposal of the Benefit-sharing Fund. Deadline is 5 May 2014, 24:00 Rome time.

Notification available in English -  French -  Spanish -  Arabic

Follow the link in the notification letters for the full text of the call and submission form.

Cooperating to make the best use of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa: A regional imperative

Cooperating to make the best use of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa: A regional imperative

Cooperating to make the best use of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa: A regional imperative

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are a precious heritage of the people of West and Central Africa.  The region is endowed with diversified agroecosystems in which crop diversity plays an integral role by contributing to the provision of food and ecosystem services.   There is a growing challenge, however, in ensuring that those resources are sustainability used and conserved for future generations. For example, in some parts of the region in situ crop diversity is threatened by a number of factors including unsustainable farming practices, changing food preferences,  urbanization, and climate change.

It is encouraging to note that despite these challenges, there is a growing awareness of the importance of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa. This publication, now available from Bioversity International, presents an overview of the collaborative efforts of key actors in the subregion over the last 10 years, from conservation programmes, to high-level regional directives, to national efforts to participate in the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Overall, these papers make a compelling case for continued subregional (and global) cooperation to sustainably and equitably use and conserve plant genetic resources.

Conference on the Knowledge Commons

Announcing the Second Global Thematic IASC Conference on the Knowledge Commons: Governing Pooled Knowledge Resources with special attention to the fields of medicine and the environment, September 5-7, 2014, New York University School of Law, New York, USA.  Topics include: Knowledge commons approaches to scientific research and Traditional and local communities’ knowledge.  Note the call for paper on topics including global crop commons and local agricultural and seed knowledge networks. Submission deadline is 28 February 2014.  Deadline extended to 15 March 2014.

International conference on enhanced genepool utilization

Announcing the International conference on enhanced genepool utilization: capturing wild relative and landrace diversity for crop improvement, Cambridge, UK, 16–20 June 2014, organized by the PGR Secure consortium and the European Association for Research on Plant Breeding (EUCARPIA).

Call for abstracts by 19 February 2014 on:

  • Charterization techniques;
  • Conservation strategies;
  • Facilitating Crop Wild Relatives and Landrace use: a) pre-breeding, b) meeting breeders’ needs, c) integrating the conservation and user communities, and d) policy enhancement.;
  • Informatics development.

For further information contact the Conference Organizing Committee:

Securing crop diversity for climate change adaptation: creating policy space for Nepal to participate in the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing

by Michael Halewood, Madan Bhatta, Bal K. Joshi, Chiranjibi Bhattarai and  Devendra Gauchan

Under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, national multi-stakeholder research teams in 8 countries (Nepal, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso) are engaging in novel research activities  to use  crop diversity to adapt to climate changes. With support from the Genetic Resources Policy Initiative, they are combining high resolution climate data, with data on crop suitability, geographic information, and genebank accession collection coordinates to identify crop genetic resources that are (possibly) adapted to the climatic conditions in vulnerable sites in those 8 countries. (Some of these activities have been reported in other blog posts). The teams then seek to acquire the identified germplasm, working through the applicable policies and laws that govern access to those resources both domestically and abroad. Lessons learned help policymakers identify mechanisms to ensure future access to and supply of such materials.  Not surprisingly, much of this policy-related work ends up focusing on developing means for national actors to participate in the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing created by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). Through the multilateral system, countries can pool and share crop genetic diversity for the purposes of agricultural research, crop breeding, and conservation. Increased climate variability and migrating climates are increasing the value of access to crop diversity as a source of genetically-based adaptation.

National Agrobiodiversity Committee considers policy reforms to make space for multilateral system

National Agrobiodiversity Coordination Committee considers reforms to make policy space for operation of the multilateral system

Nepal is currently mid-way through the process of making policy reforms to implement the ITPGRFA. Nepal acceded to the ITPGRFA in 2009, after it had approved the Nepal Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2002 (NBSAP) and Agrobiodiversity Policy (2007). The NBSAP sets national priorities regarding the use and conservation of biological resources and benefit sharing; the Agrobiodiversity Policy addresses conservation and use of agrobiodiversity in particular. Since both instruments predate Nepal’s accession to the ITPGRFA, their treatment of access and benefit sharing is oriented to implementing  the Convention on Biological Diversity, putting systems in place whose primary focus are to prevent unauthorized access to genetic resources, and set up systems to negotiate benefit sharing agreements. For Nepalese organizations and individuals to be able to pool and share crop genetic resources through the multilateral system, it is considered necessary to revise the NBSAP and the Agrobiodiversity Policy to make policy space and provide direction to implement the ITPGRFA in harmony with the CBD. (The revisions also promote supporting community based agrobiodiversity management, in situ and on farm conservation and the function of the newly formed national genebank.) In 2012–13, a national multistakeholder team revised both policies. The draft revised Agrobiodiversity Policy was submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture Development for consideration in 2013. If the Minister accepts the draft, he will introduce it to Cabinet in 2014 for adoption. The revised NBSAP will be submitted to the Minister of Forest & Soil Conservation in 2014. The research teams anticipate having systems in place for participation in the multilateral system by the end of 2014.

Report on ITPGRFA training workshop in Japan

Report on the ITPGRFA training workshop, Tsukuba, Japan

Report on the ITPGRFA training workshop, Tsukuba, Japan

The report on the training workshop to enhance capacities to understand and implement the ITPGRFA, held in Tsukuba, Japan, 23-25 October, 2013, is now available from Bioversity International.

Enhancing capacities to understand and implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: Report of an International Training Workshop, Tsukuba International Convention Center, Japan, 23–25 October 2013 documents the training organized by Bioversity International, NIAS and JATAFF, for 15 Asian ITPGRFA national focal points. Topics covered include the rationale and meaning of the core provisions of the ITPGRFA including the use of its Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA); options for national implementation of the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing; options for national protection of Farmers’ Rights; and mechanisms for raising awareness and building capacity.

Read an earlier post by Duncan Vaughan, NIAS, Japan about the workshop.

“Resilient seed systems: tools and techniques for climate change adaptation”

Giving farmers better access to crop and crop varietal diversity will strengthen their capacity to adapt to climate change. Climate and crop modeling tools are increasingly used to project the adaptive capacity of a given crop to the expected changes in climate. The results of these modeling exercises can be used to design strategies to access and use crops and crop varieties that are better adapted to future climate-changes in specific sites. Researchers, genebank managers and farmers could then attempt to gain access to potentially useful plant genetic resources through the multilateral system of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Once obtained, they could evaluate these new plant genetic resources in farmers’ fields. 

(Photo: R.Vernooy)

(Photo: R.Vernooy)

Bioversity International is assisting Bhutanese and Nepali research and development agencies to design and implement a comprehensive capacity building strategy to access and use plant genetic resources in the context of climate change adaptation. The workshop “Resilient seed systems: tools and techniques for climate change adaptation,” held in Thimpu, November 26-28, 2013, aimed to strength the capacity to integrate climate modeling in crop improvement strategies. Topics covered were: identification of farmers’ perceptions of climate change; analysis of climate changes and their impact on seed systems; identification of plant genetic resources that have potential to adapt to identified climate changes; mechanisms for the acquisition of plant genetic resources that have potential to adapt to identified climate changes; and planning of field testing of newly acquired plant genetic resources. 20 participants from Bhutan and 8 from Nepal attended the workshop. GIS tools introduced were DIVA-GIS, MaxEnt, and the climate analogue tool. Resource persons were Prem Mathur, Sarika Mittra, Michael Halewood and Ronnie Vernooy.

Photo: R. Vernooy
Photo: R. Vernooy


The workshop was hosted by the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) of the Ministry of Agricutlure and Forests of Bhutan. The national genebank of Bhutan is located at NBC. A workshop news link can found here:


Visiting the NBC. (Photo: R. Vernooy)

Visiting the NBC. (Photo: R. Vernooy)

GRPI2 mid-term review workshop report available

GRPI2 mid term review workshop report

Report of the GRPI2 mid-term review workshop

The project “strengthening national capacities to implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture” (ITPGRFA) or GRPI2 recently underwent an external mid-term review. A workshop with the external evaluators and project partners from Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Bhutan, Nepal and University of Illinois at Chicago, was held at Bioversity International headquarters, Rome, 16-19 July 2013.

The report of the workshop is available from Bioversity International. It summarizes progress made by Bioversity and partners and proposes next steps in project implementation.

Some photos from the workshop (credit: E. Clancy/Bioversity International):

GRPI2 mid term review meeting GRPI2 mid term review meeting GRPI2 mid term review meeting GRPI2 mid term review meeting

Embracing diversity

Embracing diversity: inputs for a strategy to support community seedbanks in South Africa’s smallholder farming areas Report of field visits to Limpopo and Eastern Cape, is the result of the field mission carried out by Ronnie Vernooy and Bhuwon Sthapit of Bioversity International and Thabo Tjikana, Angeline Dibiloane, Nkat Maluleke and Tovhowani Mukoma of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa in fulfillment of a grant provided by South Africa to Bioversity International to assist with the development of a policy strategy to support community seed banks. The announcement about the report can be found on the Bioversity International home page and at this link:

At the seedfair in Limpopo (photo: R. Vernooy)

At the seedfair in Limpopo (photo: R. Vernooy)