National kick-off workshop in Rwanda

Story by Léontine Crisson and Jean R. Gapusi

On 17 and 18 July 2012 in Kigali, Rwanda, the national kick-off workshop for the project  “Strengthening national capacities to implement the ITPGRFA” took place hosted by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB). RAB is the coordinating institution of the project and responsible for the implementation of the ITPGRFA. Participants came from various RAB research programmes, delegates from universities, the farmer cooperatives confederation and Bioversity International. Jean Gapusi (RAB), the national focal point for both the ITPGRFA and the Nagoya Protocol (CBD), introduced the project background. He explained that within RAB a taskforce on genetic resources has been set up to work on issues of access and benefit-sharing. He mentioned that Rwanda is in the process of developing regulations on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and of drafting of a bioprospecting policy. Michael Halewood from Bioversity International clarified the steps to operationalize the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing, first of all the confirmation which of the plant genetic resources from Rwanda  are automatically under the multilateral system (MLS), and which are voluntarily included, followed by the sharing of this information publicly, including through notifying this to the ITPGRFA Secretariat. The crops that are automatically included are those Annex 1 crops and forages that are under the management and control of the national government and in the public domain. He stressed the importance of having the legal space to implement the multilateral system, including knowing who would be authorized to provide materials through use of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA). Participants then discussed the five research themes of the project.

The second day was dedicated to training. Various more in depth presentations were made. Carlo Fadda from Bioversity International’s regional office in Nairobi introduced concept of ‘climate analogues’ – identifying parts of the world that have a climate that is similar now to the way the climate will be in reference sites in the future. He also introduced the ‘climate analogues tool’ which has been developed by CIAT and the CCAFS (Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security research program of the CGIAR) to assist in such analysis. Through use of the tool, Rwandan research teams will attempt to identify potentially useful germplasm from analogue sites that they can access through the multilateral system. Léontine Crisson, seconded from the Dutch Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation to Bioversity International, and working with the Rwandese team for three months, introduced the need-to-know about the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing of the CBD, and its relations to the ITPGRFA.

The workshop resulted in participants gaining more knowledge about the project, the International Treaty and its Multilateral system of benefit-sharing, and about relations with the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing under the Biodiversity Convention.

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