Opportunity: International PhD Programme in Agrobiodiversity, Italy

The Institute of Life Sciences at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa, Italy (SSSA) announces its International PhD Programme in Agrobiodiversity, in collaboration with the Italian National Academy of Sciences and funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MiUR).
The Course aims to contribute to the enhancement of human resource capacity in the utilisation and management of biodiversity in agricultural and natural systems, to improve the sustainability of agriculture and the conservation of genetic resources and agroecosystem (bio)diversity for the well-being of present and future generations.
Six scholarships are available to motivated students from any country. Applications from developing countries are particularly welcome. The application must include description of a research project that the candidate would like to carry out during the three-year period of the PhD. Examples of research themes are indicated in the Call for Applications. English will be the one and only language for all activities envisaged in the PhD Programme.

Further information on the Programme, the Call and the Online Application Form can be found at http://www.sssup.it/agrobiodiversity. The deadline for receipt of applications is 5 September 2014. The Programme starts on 3 November 2014.

The Course has two curricula:
(A) Plant Genetic Resources (for further inquiries about possible research themes  contact Prof. Enrico Pè, m.pe@sssup.it).
(B) Functional Biodiversity in Agroecosystems (for further inquiries about possible research themes contact Prof. Paolo Bàrberi, barberi@sssup.it for topics related to Agroecology or Dr Francesco Licausi, f.licausi@sssup.it for topics related to Crop Physiology).

For general information,  contact info-phdlifesciences@sssup.it

Announcement: new website for the ABS Initiative

The ABS Capacity Development Initiative has launched its new website at http://www.abs-initiative.info

The website is a repository of knowledge and information on topics related to Access and Benefit Sharing and the ABS Initiative.  Since 2005 the ABS Initiative and its affiliates have produced over 800 documents and organized or participated at about 140 events.

The website has two main purposes:
•    Provide access to the most recent information on the ABS Initiative’s activities (e.g., events), impacts and outputs
•    Through a database, provide access to ABS and ABS Initiative related information and documents dating back to 2005/6 – the beginning of the ABS Initiative.

Send your suggestions and comments to tobias.dierks@giz.de of the ABS Initiative.

 

Formation sur les systèmes de semences robustes face aux changements climatiques

Ouagadougou, 26 au 28 mai 2014

Par Koffi Emmanuel Kassin et Edmond Koffi

Du 26 au 28 mai 2014, nous avons pris part à atelier de formation sur les systèmes de semences robustes face aux changements climatiques organisé par l’INERA et Bioversity International à Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). Cet atelier s’inscrit dans le cadre du renforcement de capacités nationales pour la mise en œuvre du Traité International sur les Ressources Phytogénétiques pour l’Alimentation et l’Agriculture (TIRPGAA). Ont pris part à cette formation une vingtaine de participants (chercheurs, enseignants chercheurs et étudiants) venus de la Côte d’Ivoire et du Burkina Faso.

Participants de l'atelier Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Participants de l’atelier
Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Trois objectifs étaient assignés à cette rencontre. Il s’agissait d’une part, d’initier les participants aux outils du Système d’Information Géographique (SIG) pour la recherche de ressources phytogénétiques dans un contexte de changements climatiques, d’autre part de les familiariser à l’utilisation des outils SIG à travers des exercices pratiques à partir des données provenant des pays respectifs et enfin d’identifier les étapes prochaines pour l’application des outils dans des projets de recherche au Burkina Faso et en Côte d’Ivoire. La formation a été dispensée par Ronnie Vernooy de Bioversity International (Rome) et Gloria Otieno de Bioversity international Uganda avec l’appui de Sognigbe N’Danikou de Bioversity International Benin. Outre les chercheurs du CNRA, l’équipe de la Côte d’Ivoire comprenait deux enseignants chercheurs : Dr DIBI Pauline et Dr Koné Moussa de l’UFR Géographie Tropicale de l’Université Félix Houphouët Boigny.

Le programme de l’atelier d’une durée de trois jours s’est articulé autour de 4 points essentiels : 1. Introduction au cycle de recherche sur les systèmes de semences robustes face aux changements climatiques; 2. Acquisition, préparation des données d’accession et installation des logiciels; 3. Initiation aux outils DIVA-GIS et Analogue climatique; 4. Exercice de groupe.

DIVA-GIS et Analogue climatique

DIVA-GIS qui est un logiciel gratuit de cartographie sur internet. Initiation à DIVA-GIS a porté sur comment : élaborer des cartes de distribution à différentes échelles de la diversité biologique ; extraire les données climatiques des points de collecte des accessions ; prédire la présence d’espèces en fonction du climat actuel (1970-2000) et futur (2020-2050) en utilisant BIOCLIM. Avec l’outil « Analogue climatique » nous avons fait des simulations de changements climatiques, afin d’identifier les ressources adaptées à chaque type de scenario. En effet, cet outil est efficace pour : – prévoir l’agriculture de demain ; – déterminer des sites analogues actuels et futurs à partir de 19 indices bioclimatiques.

L’exercice de groupe a consisté à vérifier les connaissances acquises lors de la phase précédente. Ainsi, les participants ont été répartis en trois groupes dont deux pour le Burkina Faso et 1 pour la Cote d’Ivoire. Chaque équipe a eu à travailler sur les données nationales pour produire des cartes de répartition des accessions en fonction des zones climatiques et déterminer des sites analogues actuels et futurs. Les travaux des différentes équipes ont été présentés puis critiqués avant la clôture de l’atelier.

 

Participants de Côte d’Ivoire Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Participants de Côte d’Ivoire
Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Apprentissages

Au cours de la formation, avons vu quelques aspects de l’utilisation des outils SIG. Toutefois, ils peuvent contribuer à mettre à jour les informations sur les sites de collecte des ressources phytogénétiques, réaliser un plan de la diversité des cultures au niveau global ou par pays, analyser et caractériser la diversité des ressources phytogénétiques ou faire une analyse complémentaire de la biodiversité pour la combinaison de traits et enfin identifier les sites correspondants potentiels pour la culture de variétés dans des conditions de stress biotiques et abiotiques.

Ces outils peuvent également permettre de faire une classification des collections basées sur le critère de l’adaptation climatique, fournir des informations climatiques (pluie mensuelle, température minimale et maximale) pour les sites de collecte individuels, élaborer des cartes climatiques de divers paramètres climatiques et leurs combinaisons. Ils peuvent également permettre de définir des lignes directrices pour développer des stratégies de collecte de nouvelles collections ainsi que pour la re-collecte du matériel génétique.

Ces outils apparaissent indispensables pour les chercheurs, particulièrement les sélectionneurs et les gestionnaires des ressources phytogénétiques. Une restitution à l’attention de ces sélectionneurs ainsi que des géographes et de tous ceux qui sont impliqués dans des travaux touchant au changement climatique s’avère nécessaire en vue d’une plus large diffusion de ces outils et d’une dissémination étendue des connaissances dans ce domaine.

 

 

 

 

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: conference@pgrsecure.org

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.