Notification from Treaty Secretariat – Article 9 Farmers’ Rights

The Treaty Secretariat have posted a Notification on the Treaty website, on 21 September 2012, re-inviting Contracting Parties, international relevant organizations and National Focal Points to submit views, experiences and best practices on the implementation of Article 9 of the Treaty on Farmers’ Rights. By 25 July 2012 the Secretariat had not received any submission. Submissions can be sent to the Treaty Secretariat by e-mail and in hard copy by the extended deadline of 8 October 2012.

Notification en Français

Notificacion en Español


Waking up: the experience of the Jogimara community seed bank

Jogimara community seed bank management team with the authors of the story from Bioversity International and LI-BIRD

“For a long time we were asleep, but today we are active in the conservation of plant genetic resources,” said Hariram Khatiwada, the president of the Jogimara community seed bank, Nepal.

Ronnie Vernooy (Bioversity International) and Pitambar Shrestha (LI-BIRD) write about the experience of the seed bank. Read more.

Global crop commons – keynote address by Emile Frison

Check out the keynote address given by Dr Emile Frison (Director General, Bioversity International) on “the role of the global Crop Commons in supporting livelihoods and food security in developing countries”  at the  1st Thematic IASC Conference on the Knowledge Commons, Governing Pooled Knowledge Resources: Building Institutions for Sustainable Scientific, Cultural and Genetic Resources Commons, 12-14 September 2012, at the Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Emile’s speech is approx 54 minutes from the start of the video.

Conference on the Knowledge Commons

Bioversity International is supporting the 1st Thematic IASC Conference on the Knowledge Commons, Governing Pooled Knowledge Resources: Building Institutions for Sustainable Scientific, Cultural and Genetic Resources Commons, 12-14 September 2012, at the Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.  Michael Halewood is presenting “what kind of goods are plant genetic resources for food and agriculture? Towards the identification and development of a new global commons” and Emile Frison (Director General, Bioversity International) is giving a key-note speech on “the role of the global Crop Commons in supporting livelihoods and food security in developing countries“.  Michael Halewood is also part of the panel concluding the conference. We will be reporting further after the event once proceedings are available.

CGIAR centres and climate change; new CCAFS working paper


There’s one optimistic conclusion for agriculture under climate change: modelling the future suggests that for many places, the climate they face in 20 or 30 years is already present somewhere on Earth. Farmers and plant scientists can prepare for the future by using something like the Climate Analogues Tool to suggest places to look for crop and varieties that might to some extent be pre-adapted to predicted conditions [].

The next problem, of course, is to access that genetic diversity.

The free movement of the genetic resources themselves and information about them is thus a crucial element in efforts to adapt agriculture to climate change.

A new study of how plant genetic resources move into and out of the CGIAR, carried out for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) program by researchers at Bioversity International and partners, reveals the invisible flows of material and identifies some of the blockages. CGIAR genebanks keep data on the countries accessions come from and the countries that request accessions, and those data are publically available through the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The study reveals that countries are hugely interdependent on one another, and that the multilateral access and benefit-sharing system of the Treaty is enhancing the availability of genetic resources. Some genebanks have sent material to more than 150 countries. And individual countries have received accessions from a similar number of other countries. But there is also troubling evidence that blockages to the flow are becoming more frequent and harder to get around.

CGIAR centres are themselves adapting in response to climate change. Among these changes are closer direct interactions with farmers, national extension services, NGOs and aid agencies and closer cooperation with the private sector. The details of these broader operational strategies, along with the information on flows, can be found in a working paper based on the new study: Flows under stress: availaibility of plant genetic resources in times of climate and policy change, by Isabel López-Noriega, Gea Galluzzi, Michael Halewood, Ronnie Vernooy, Enrico Bertacchini, Devendra Gauchan and Eric Welch. Link to the paper:

The main findings of the paper will be summarized in three forthcoming CCAFS blogs which will be posted on September 14, 21, and 28 []. The authors welcome comments and observations which can be posted directly on the CCAFS blog. Or alternatively, send them to Ronnie Vernooy,

GRPI 2 project starts in the Americas. Kick-off workshop in Costa Rica

Story by Gea Galluzzi and Isabel Lapeña

On the 23rd and 24th of August 2012 the national kick-off workshop for the project  “Strengthening national capacities to implement the ITPGRFA” took place in Costa Rica, organized by the National Seed Office (ONS), national counterpart of the project. Participants came from the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG), the Ministry of Environment, public research centres and genebanks (INTA, CATIE, Universities), NGOs (INBIO), farmer cooperatives and Bioversity International.

Photo by Gea Galluzzi

Walter Quirós from the ONS and president of the National Commission on Plant Genetic introduced the importance of the ITPGRA in general, Costa Rica’s commitments and obligations and the benefits expected for the country. Staff from Bioversity International gave an extensive overview of the ITPGRA, its legal framework and operational mechanisms; as well as on the fundamental steps leading to national level implementation and the role of the project in this direction. Among the most important steps mentioned was the identification of a relevant national authority in charge of access and benefit sharing of PGRFA and the clear identification of national collections automatically included in the MLS. Jorge Cabrera, a legal expert who will assist the national level implementation of the Treaty, gave a detailed overview of the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing under the CBD and its relation to the ITPGRFA.

The second day was dedicated to a short visit to the germplasm collections maintained in CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza) and to a discussion with national researchers around the activities to be carried out under the project’s complementary research themes. The discussion was very fruitful and allowed grounding the research questions outlined in the project in the national context and interests. Concept notes for each theme were refined and research work has been officially initiated.

Prior to the two-day workshop an additional day was devoted to training smaller groups of researchers on specific tools for data gathering and analyses, under specific research themes of the project. One group was trained in the use of the Climate Analogues tool, thanks to the participation of Flora Mer from the CCAFS program. This tool is one of the instruments to be used within a research component on estimating the impacts of climate change on interdependency on PGRFA across regions and countries. Through use of the tool, potentially useful germplasm from analogue sites can be identified which researchers could then access through the Multilateral System. A blog about the training session:

Another smaller group was trainedion the use of the Sawtooth software for collecting interview data as part of the research component on policy networks. This component aims to identifying key actors, strengths and weaknesses of their relations, and improve the policy making processes with respect to the implementation of the Treaty.

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. In general, it raised an interest among relevant national stakeholders about conservation and use of PGRFA and set very good basis for fruitful development of the project.