Launch of the Resilient Seed Systems resource box

Women of the community seed bank of Gumbu, South Africa. Photo: R.Vernooy

Women of the community seed bank of Gumbu, South Africa. Photo: R.Vernooy

Farmers from around the world are telling us that better access to crop and varietal diversity might help them to adapt to climate change. Under supportive policy and socioeconomic conditions, such strengthened adaptive capacity could contribute to greater food availability throughout the year, the production of more nutritious and healthy crops, and income generation.

Researchers are increasingly using climate and crop modeling tools to predict the adaptive capacity of a given crop to 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 expected to be better adapted to future climate changes in specific locations. Researchers, gene bank managers, extension agents, and farmers could then gain access to these potentially useful plant genetic resources through the multilateral system of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture or other means. Once obtained, these “new” plant genetic resources can be evaluated in target environments through on-farm experimentation over one or more cycles.

To assist countries design and implement a comprehensive capacity-building strategy to access and use plant genetic resources more effectively in the context of climate change adaptation a team of Bioversity International researchers developed a resilient seed systems resource box. This resource box is an on-line tool containing eight modules that represent the steps of a dynamic research cycle: 1. Situational analysis and planning; 2. Data preparation and selection of software; 3. Climate change analysis and identification of germplasm; 4. Germplasm acquisition; 5. Field experimentation; 6. Germplasm conservation; 7. Participatory evaluation; 8. Knowledge sharing and communication.

The resource box is intended for plant breeders, researchers, gene bank managers, and policymakers with an interest in plant genetic resources, university lecturers and advanced students with an interest in agricultural development, adaptation to climate change, and seed systems, and others involved in the strengthening of farmers’ seed systems and their capacity to adapt to climate change.

Access the resourc box at: http://www.seedsresourcebox.org/

We look forward to receiving feedback on the content and practical use of the resource box.

Ronnie Vernooy, on behalf of the contributors

 

Participatory research and capacity building: climate resilience and seeds in Zambia

Identifying suitable germplasm for the future

By Gloria Otieno, Bioversity International and Charles Nkhoma, Community Technology Development Trust

Photo by: Annie Chikanji, Biodiversity Conservation Network

Maize varieties at the community seed fair in Chikankata, Zambia

Maize varieties at the community seed fair in Chikankata, Zambia. Photo credit: A Chikanji.

Farmers in most parts of Zambia report changes in climate and weather patterns including unpredictable rains; shifting and shortening of the growing season; increases in temperatures; and longer dry spells. According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) What’s in it for Africa? southern Africa has experienced an increase in annual average, maximum and minimum temperatures since the early 1990s with the most significant warming occurring during the last two decades.  Minimum temperatures have risen more rapidly compared to maximum temperatures over inland southern Africa (IPCC AR5). In Zambia where maize is the staple food crop, production of maize is predicted to decrease by up to 20% in some places by 2050 under such temperature and precipitation scenarios (Schlenker & Lobell, 2010, Robust negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture. Environmental Research Letters, Vol 5, No 1).  One adaptation strategy is to identify varieties of maize that can withstand these temperature and precipitation changes as well as the shortening of the growing season. Another strategy is to switch to more resilient crops such as millets and sorghum.

To build capacity, Bioversity International, in collaboration with Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), Zambia, organized a five day training workshop on resilience of seed systems and adaptation to climate change, bringing together scientists, breeders, Geographic information system (GIS) specialists, climate change specialists and extension workers. Two communities, Chikankata and Rufunsa, were identified by CTDT, based on their vulnerability to climate change and reduction in productivity over the last couple of years. An analysis of their weather and climate was done using meteorological data and predictions of 2050s climate. According to the analysis, the two communities are already experiencing shorter growing seasons, unpredictable rainfall and longer dry spells. Predictions for the 2050s indicate a general increase in mean temperatures by 1 degree Celsius, a relatively shorter growing season and a slight increase in precipitation. GIS and climate modelling techniques were used to identify climate challenges in the two communities and identify suitable maize and sorghum varieties from the national genebank as well as the international collections already in the multilateral system of the Plant Treaty.

Through participatory exercises and a visit to a community seed fair in Chikankata (see photo), local diversity within the community was assessed to determine whether these meet the community’s needs. Traits that are required and preferred for present and future climate change adaptation were also identified. An assessment of local diversity of maize reveals that there are three local maize varieties that have promising traits in terms of early maturity, taste, high yielding and resistance to pests and diseases. Sources for accessions of sorghum and maize were found by searching through national genebank accessions and international sources such as GENESYS (global portal to information about Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture). These can now be tested with farmers to compare their performance with local promising varieties.  See map below showing areas with similar temperatures (minimum and maximum) in 2050s and the selected accessions from those areas.

Maps showing areas with similar temperatures (minimum and maximum) in 2050’s and the selected accessions from those areas.

Maps showing areas with similar temperatures (minimum and maximum) in 2050’s and the selected accessions from those areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information about capacity building for resilient seed systems visit http://bit.ly/seeds-resource-box.

2016 Course on genetic resources conservation and use

You can now apply for fellowships for the training programme ‘Contemporary approaches to genetic resources conservation and use:  Plant genetic resources strategies and policies’, Wageningen, the Netherlands (04  – 22 April 2016). Deadline for fellowship application from the Netherlands Fellowship Programme is: October 20, 2015.

In many parts of the world a relatively small number of high-yielding uniform crop varieties have replaced the many farmers’ varieties. Various participatory programmes have been developed to support farmers in maintaining genetic diversity in their fields. Gene banks have been established to conserve genetic diversity, and to study and use the properties contained in their collections. Building on these components, this course is devoted to analysing plant genetic resources management strategies and policies and their impact on conservation and use. It further aims to support policymakers and other stakeholders in the implementation of International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT-PGRFA).

The training focuses on the following major three blocks:

  • Contemporary concepts and strategies regarding the conservation and use of plant genetic resources; , participatory plant breeding methods, the role of documentation, and the opportunities for biotechnology applications.
  • Genetic resource policy and management strategies. The history and contents of international agreements, in particular the CBD, IT-PGRFA, the WTO-TRIPS and UPOV, and the new Nagoya Protocol.
  • Implementation of International Treaty with emphasis on Multilateral System, the interpretations and role of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement, the Funding Strategy and aspects of Farmers Rights.

Deadline for fellowship application from the Netherlands Fellowship Programme is: October 20, 2015 through Fellowships for Short Courses in the ATLAS register. Please take note of the changed procedure (you no longer have to visit the nearest Netherlands Embassy to apply), which is now done online. The online registration may take some time; please consult the CDI application procedures, and visit the FAQs section. Simultaneously apply online at CDI; the procedure is explained in the links above.

For more information: Abishkar Subedi, PhD, Course coordinator, Senior advisor, Genetic Resources and Seed Systems, Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR, the Netherlands. E-mail abishkar.subedi@wur.nl

See: https://grpi2.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/the-international-treaty-in-the-classroom/

Making access and benefit sharing work for family farmers and agroecology

CALL FOR PAPERS

In a forthcoming special issue of the magazine “Farming Matters,” ILEIA in collaboration with Bioversity will explore if and how access and benefit sharing related to plant genetic resources can work for family farmers and agroecology. The publication will primarily be based on experiences of family farmers from around the world and aims to inform farmers and practitioners, researchers, civil society, and policy makers. It will be published in collaboration with Bioversity International. Topics of interest include: linking ABS issues with  in-situ agricultural diversity  conservation and use, dynamic partnerships and projects linking in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use,  promotion of  farmers’ and indigenous peoples’ access to genetic resources and know-how, use of community protocols for ABS, management of biocultural landscapes, biopiracy prevention, promotion and recognition of farmers and indigenous peoples in natural resource management decision-making, climate change adaptation, poverty alleviation, training of farmers to take advantage of the ITPGRFA, and participatory plant breeding.

For the full text of the call, see the web announcement here or at http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/get-involved/participate/call-for-contributions-access-and-benefit-sharing-can-it-work-for-family-farmers-and-agroecology

We encourage you to submit an article together with research partners!

Participatory research and capacity building: climate resilience and seeds in Zimbabwe

By Gloria Otieno, Bioversity International and Patrick Kasasa, Community Technology Development Trust

Photos by:  Tinashe Sithole, Community Technology Development Trust

Assessing local diversity in the Chibika Community seedbank, Zimbabwe

Assessing local diversity in the Chibika Community seedbank, Zimbabwe

Global climate change raises major concerns for developing countries. According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) What’s in it for Africa? Africa’s climate is changing and the impacts are already being felt. Southern Africa has experienced an increase in annual average, maximum and minimum temperatures. The most significant warming has been during the last two decades. Minimum temperatures have risen more rapidly compared to maximum temperatures over inland southern Africa. In Zimbabwe and Zambia there have been modest decreases in rainfall. Seasonal rainfall patterns, such as the onset and duration of rains, frequency of dry spells and intensity of rainfall have changed. More frequent dry spells, coupled with more intense daily rainfall, over a shorter period of time have seen a shortening of the growing season. For example in some districts of Zimbabwe, research and meteorological reports indicate that the rainy days have reduced from 32 days to 28 days in a span of two years. The impact of this will be largely felt in the agricultural sector where climate change is likely to affect agricultural output leading to food insecurity and loss of livelihoods for rural farmers. One of the longer term adaptation strategies is to identify germplasm that is suited and adaptable to the changing climate both at present and in the future.

Participatory exercise in the Uzumba-Maranga–Pfumbwe district of Zimbabwe.

Participatory exercise in the Uzumba-Maranga–Pfumbwe district of Zimbabwe.

In view of this, Bioversity International, in collaboration with the Community Technology Development Trust of Zimbabwe (CTDT), organized a training workshop, in Harare, 11-15 May 2015, on resilience seed systems and adaptation to climate change, bringing together more than 20 scientists, breeders, GIS specialists, climate change specialists and extension workers. At the workshop, participants learned GIS and climate modelling techniques to identify climate challenges in selected communities in the Uzumba-Maranga–Pfumbwe (UMP) and Tsholotsho districts in Zimbabwe and further identify germplasm that could be used in the future. Participants also visited a community seedbank in UMP and conducted participatory exercises to identify climate challenges; assess local diversity within the community and determine whether these meet their needs; and identify traits that they need for present and future climate change adaptation.

Figure 2: Map showing areas with similar temperatures (minimum and maximum) in 2050 and the selected accessions from those areas (using DIVA-GIS crop suitability modelling).

Figure 2: Map showing areas with similar temperatures (minimum and maximum) in 2050 and the selected accessions from those areas (using DIVA-GIS crop suitability modelling).

Results from the exercises reveal that these communities are facing increased minimum and maximum temperatures and shorter rainy days. An analysis of 2050 climate using one climate model – DIVA-GIS crop suitability modelling – also reveals that mean, minimum and maximum temperatures will increase and although rainfall will increase slightly, it is likely to be more erratic with shorter rainy days (see Figure 2). Farmers identified the following traits, in order of importance, as some of the characteristics that they would want to see in a variety being bred for future climates: 1) early maturing; 2) high yielding and 3) resistant to pests and diseases.
By looking at accessions from national genebanks and international sources such as GENESYS (global portal to information about Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture), the group identified accessions of finger millet, sorghum and pearl millet which will now be tested with farmers.

Participants in the training workshop on resilience seed systems and adaptation to climate change, 11-15 May 2015, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Participants in the training workshop on resilience seed systems and adaptation to climate change, 11-15 May 2015, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Community seedbank secrets revealed in a new book

New publication: Community Seed Banks – Origins, Evolution and Prospects.

Community Seed Banks - Origins, Evolution and Prospects

Community Seed Banks – Origins, Evolution and Prospects

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new book by Earthscan/Routledge in association with Bioversity International  Community Seed Banks – Origins, Evolution and Prospects which provides for the first time a global review of the development of community seedbanks, including a wide range of case studies.

Found all around the world, from Guatemala to Uganda and Nepal, community seedbanks play an important role in maintaining seeds and making them available to local communities.

The story of their establishment, their evolution and sustainability in almost 30 years of existence is varied and fascinating. Some seedbanks were established to face the loss of local seed supplies after a famine, drought or flood. Others were established because farmers did not have any reliable source of good quality seed. Some others were initiated to maintain and use healthy and pure seed lines resulting from participatory crop improvement efforts.

Read more on the Bioversity web site and blog by Ronnie Vernooy on the Earthscan/Routledge web site.

We have some copies available, for free, for libraries, research and farmers’ organziations and community seed banks in developing countries. Please contact bio-policy[at]cgiar.org to request a copy. Remember to provide a full mailing address.

Farmers’ seed systems -report of an experts meeting organized by GIZ

On June 4, 2014, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) organized an expert talk about farmers’ seed systems in Bonn, Germany. A number of researchers presented their views on current trends and challenges of farmers’ seed systems. One of the topics presented was community seed banks. A report of the meeting is now available:

http://www.giz.de/expertise/downloads/giz2015-en-dokum-expert-talks-farmers-seed-syst.pdf

This publication aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion in Germany about the role of seeds in agrobiodiversity conservation and food security. For more information, contact: Alberto Camacho-Henriquez at GIZ, <alberto.camacho-henriquez@giz.de>.

 

 

 

Primer for national focal points of the Treaty and Nagoya Protocol

New publication: Mutually supportive implementation of the Plant Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol. A primer for national focal points and other stakeholders.

This discussion draft is based upon a structured set of interactions – a survey, a workshop, held 3-6 June 2014 and follow-up analysis – involving ‘tandems’ (the national focal points for the Nagoya Protocol (NP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) from a single country working together as a team) and independent experts and stakeholders whose daily activities are effected by access and benefit-sharing (ABS) regulations.  We hope this document will provide national policy actors with a tool to increase their ability and confidence to implement the CBD/NP and ITPGRFA/multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing in mutually supportive ways.

The final version will be published later in 2015.  We invite you to send comments to Michael Halewood, corresponding editor (m.halewood@cgiar.org).

The publication is now available from Bioversity International. Presentations made at the tandem workshop are available here. Continue reading

Outputs by GRPI project partners

We are delighted to share news about some outputs recently made available from the national teams in the GRPI2 project, and others that are under development, but will be finished soon.  Some of these are available electronically and we include the links.

Bhutan
1.    National Biodiversity Centre (NBC). (forthcoming) A study on the history of the introduction and adoption of important food crops in Bhutan. Rice, Maize, Potato and Chili. NBC, Bhutan.
2.    Phuntsho, U. and Vernooy, R. (in press). Making technology transfer work: case studies of the food processing sector in Bhutan.
3.    Tamang, A. and Dukpa, G. (in press). Bhutan: the Bumthang community seed bank. In: Vernooy, R., Shrestha, P. and Sthapit, B. Community Seed Banks: origins, evolution and prospects. Earthscan from Routledge.

Burkina Faso
1.    Jade (2014). Traité international sur les ressources phytogénétiques pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture: 10 questions pour en comprendre l’essentiel (un poster à l’intention des chercheurs)/a poster for researchers. Download the file.
2.    Jade (2014). Traité international sur les ressources phytogénétiques pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (un dépliant en français reprenant l’essentiel des messages du traité)/a leaflet summarizing the key elements of the Treaty. Download the file.
3.    Jade (2014). Banque de genes: Le coffre-fort de la future generation (bande dessinée vidéo en français scénarisant le contenu du traité et de son système multilateral). Idée originale: Souleymane Ouattara. Scénario: Souleymane Ouattara, Gaoussou Nabaloum et Pascal Ouédraogo, alias ‘Ledon’ (an animated video about the Treaty and the MLS)
4.    Jade (2014). Et si le tô venait à disparaître? (un film sur les enjeux du traité à partir de cas et de témoignages d’acteurs) Réalisation: Souleymane Ouattara. (a film about the Treaty based on examples and viewpoints)
5.    Jade (2014) Les graines de vie d’hier, d’aujourd’hui et de demain (un magazine radiophonique en langue nationale mooré de 45 minutes). Réalisation: Gaoussou Nabaloum. (a radio broadcast in the Moore’ language about the Treaty)

Costa Rica
1.    Cabrera Medaglia, J. (2014) La implementación del Tratado Internacional de Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura en Costa Rica : Recomendaciones legales y de política. Bioversity International, Rome and Comisión Nacional de Recursos Fitogenéticos, San José, Costa Rica . Download the file.
2.    Cabrera Medaglia, J. (2014) Indentificación de las posibles autoridades nacionales competentes para la promoción de la implementación del Tratado Internacional de Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura en Costa Rica. Bioversity International, Rome and Comisión Nacional de Recursos Fitogenéticos, San José, Costa Rica. Download the file.
3.    CONAREFI (2014) (set of fact sheets). Fortalecimiento de las capacidades nacionales para la implementación del Tratado Internacional sobre los Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura en Costa Rica
4.    Elizondo Porras, F.L., Araya Villalobos, R., Hernández Fonseca, J.C. Martínez Umaña, K. (in press). Costa Rica: Unión de Semilleros del Sur.  In: Vernooy, R., Shrestha, P. and Sthapit, B. Community Seed Banks: origins, evolution and prospects. Earthscan from Routledge.
5.    Vásquez Morera, N. and Solano Sánchez, W. (2014). Diagnóstico de instituciones nacionales y regionales que conservan recursos fitogenéticos para alimentación y agricultura en Costa Rica. Bioversity International, Rome and Comisión Nacional de Recursos Fitogenéticos, San José, Costa Rica

Guatemala
1.    Galluzzi, G. and Lapeña, I. (in press). Guatemala: Community seed reserves restore maize diversity. .  In: Vernooy, R., Shrestha, P. and Sthapit, B. Community Seed Banks: origins, evolution and prospects. Earthscan from Routledge.
2.    Lapeña, I., Vásquez, F. and Say, E. (2014). El Tratado Internacional sobre Recursos Fitogenéticos para La Alimentación y la Agricultura (TIRFAA) en Guatemala. Proceso de implementación del Sistema Multilateral de Acceso y Distribución de Beneficios. Download the file.

Nepal
1.    Dilli, J., Manisha, J. and Pitambar, S. (in press). Nepal: the community seed bank in Tamaphok. In: Vernooy, R., Shrestha, P. and Sthapit, B. Community Seed Banks: origins, evolution and prospects. Earthscan from Routledge

Rwanda
1.    Policy brief (forthcoming). Implementing the ITPGRFA and Nagoya protocol in Rwanda: implications for ABS.
2.    Niyibigira T., Nyirigira A. and Otieno G. (forthcoming). Stakeholders in Technology transfer in Rwanda: the case of Biofortified beans.
3.    Dusengemungu, L., Ndacyayisenga, T., Otieno, G., Nyirigira, A.R. and Gapusi, J.W. (in press). Rwanda: the Rubaya community gene bank. In: Vernooy, R., Shrestha, P. and Sthapit, B. Community Seed Banks: origins, evolution and prospects. Earthscan from Routledge

Uganda
1.    Zaake E., Mulumba J.W., Otieno G. and Ogwal R. (forthcoming). The History of Crops Domestication and Interdependence: Case studies of Major Staples in Uganda.
2.    Mulumba J.W., Otieno G. and Ogwal R. (forthcoming). Networks matter: Systemic interactions and coalitions in the implementation of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Uganda.
3.    Adokoracha, J.; Kiwukaa, C., Zaakea, E.; Nankya, R. and Mulumba, J.W. (forthcoming). Stakeholders involvement in technology transfer in Uganda.
4.    Policy brief (forthcoming) Policy implementation and legal space for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in Uganda.
5.    Mulumba, J.W., Nankya, R., Kiwuka, C., Adokorach, J., Otieno, G., Kyomugisha, M. Fadda, C. and Jarvis, D.I. (in press) Uganda: the Kiziba community gene bank. In: Vernooy, R., Shrestha, P. and Sthapit, B. Community Seed Banks: origins, evolution and prospects. Earthscan from Routledge.

New publication: Toolkit for the indicators of resilience in socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes

Toolkit for Indicators of Resilience

Toolkit for the Indicators of Resilience

This toolkit, available on the Bioversity International website provides practical guidance for making use of the “Indicators of Resilience in Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS)” in the field. The indicators are a tool for engaging local communities in adaptive management of the landscapes and seascapes in which they live. By using the tested methods presented in this toolkit, communities can increase their capacity to respond to social, economic, and environmental pressures and shocks, to improve their environmental and economic conditions, thus increasing the social and ecological resilience of their landscapes and seascapes, and ultimately make progress towards realizing a society in harmony with nature.

The approach presented here is centred on holding participatory “assessment workshops”. These involve discussion and a scoring process for the set of twenty indicators designed to capture communities’ perceptions of factors affecting the resilience of their landscapes and seascapes. The participants in these workshops are members of the local community and stakeholders in the local area. Their participation allows them to evaluate current conditions across the landscape and identify and reach agreement on priority actions, contributing to enhanced communication among stakeholders and empowered local communities. Workshops may be planned and implemented by people from within or outside the community. The guidance provided in this toolkit is primarily intended for organizers and facilitators of resilience assessment workshops.

Read our previous post on the co-management of pastoral lands in Mongolia.  Mongolia was one of the case study countries in which the toolkit was tested and refined. This work was coordinated by Dr H. Ykhanbai and Ronnie Vernooy..