Celebrating the life of Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi

Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

By Michael Halewood

We are writing this blog post to celebrate the life of Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi, who passed away in September 2016.

A number of us at Bioversity got to know Jean over the course of six years of working together on the Genetic Resources Policy Initiative. Jean was the national team coordinator for the project in Rwanda.  He was also, over the course of his career, a Project Officer at  ASARECA; a Senior Research Fellow in Tree Seed Centre; the Curator of Rwanda National Gene bank (RNGB); Head of Station for the Rwanda Agriculture Board; and a researcher at the Institut de Recherche Scientifique et Technologique. He was the Rwanda National Focal Point for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and also the National Focal Point for access and benefit sharing issues under the Convention on Biological Diversity. He was also a teacher, a pastor, a husband and a father of eight children.

Jean immediately impressed people with his generous, calm, open manner. One felt immediately at home in his presence, even though he was someone with a great deal of seniority, and professional gravitas.  He was wise, insightful, fun, sensitive, … even noble. Noble is not a word one hears used much these days to describe people, but it fits Jean.

I personally got to spend many, many hours with Jean, bouncing around in his truck, driving to distant project sites across Rwanda. And we met in many places around the world at conferences, negotiations and project governance meetings. He was informed and passionate about his country, especially the farmers and local natural resource managers.  He cared deeply about Rwanda, about Africa, about rural development, combating poverty and injustice. He was exceptionally serious about making the world a better place but managed to treat the rest of us to his light, warm, rolling sense of humour as he pursued that goal.

Jean was an excellent research partner and leader. He took a ‘big tent’ approach that was open and inclusive, drawing people into activities, getting the best out of them, making room for more junior partners, spending time to develop their skills, ultimately building teams that were greater than the sum of their individual parts.

Jean was a great man. We will miss him.

Jean with Michael Halewood and Leontine Crisson. Leontine spent 6 months working with Jean in Rwanda on the GRPI2 project.

Jean with Michael Halewood and Leontine Crisson. Leontine spent 6 months working with Jean in Rwanda on the GRPI2 project.

GRPI2 first project planning meeting, 6-10 February 2012, Rome, Italy. Jean is in the second row from the front, third from the left in the pink shirt. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

GRPI2 first project planning meeting, 6-10 February 2012, Rome, Italy. Jean is in the second row from the front, third from the left in the pink shirt. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

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Realizing farmers’ rights through community biodiversity management

Farming communities attending rewards (in-kind and social recognition) handover ceremony for successful conservation of rare quinoa varieties. Huataquita, Cabanillas District, San Román Province, Puno Region, Peru. Credit: Adam G. Drucker.

Farming communities attending rewards (in-kind and social recognition) handover ceremony for successful conservation of rare quinoa varieties. Huataquita, Cabanillas District, San Román Province, Puno Region, Peru. Credit: Adam G. Drucker/Bioversity International

 A community-based approach to the management of agricultural biodiversity, including supporting community seedbanks, can empower and benefit smallholder farmers and farming communities economically, environmentally and socially. This approach makes implementing farmers’ rights at national level both practical and effective contributing to food and seed security, sustainable livelihoods and resilience. 

Two new briefs show how this approach makes implementing farmers’ rights at national level both practical and effective contributing to food and seed security, sustainable livelihoods and resilience.

•    Realizing farmers’ rights through community-based agricultural biodiversity management
•    Supporting community seedbanks to realize farmers’ rights

These briefs have been submitted to the 2016 Global Consultation on Farmers Right, held in Bali, Indonesia, 27-30 September 2016.

Read more about this work.

Ximena Cadima, from Fundación PROINPA, Bolivia presenting her work on defining and identifying farmers who are good producers of native and traditional seed varieties and putting into place incentives for these farmers to continue operating at the Farmers Rights Consultation. Credit: R. Vernooy/Bioversity Interantional.

Ximena Cadima, from Fundación PROINPA, Bolivia presenting her work on defining and identifying farmers who are good producers of native and traditional seed varieties and putting into place incentives for these farmers to continue operating at the Farmers Rights Consultation. Credit: R. Vernooy/Bioversity International.

 

Ronnie Vernooy presenting on “Community seed banks around the world – preconditions for their success” at the Farmers Rights Consultation.

Ronnie Vernooy presenting on “Community seed banks around the world – preconditions for their success” at the Farmers Rights Consultation. Credit: Pitambar Shrestha/LI-BIRD

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 in Lusaka, Zambia, 24th-28th August 2015, 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.

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.

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..

Supporting international efforts to pool and conserve crop genetic resources in times of radical legal change

Intellectual Property Rights - Legal and Economic challenges for Development. Oxford University Press

Intellectual Property Rights – Legal and Economic Challenges for Development

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and the editors of Intellectual Property Rights – Legal and Economic Challenges for Development, published by Oxford University Press, said that it is urgent that the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is fully implemented. They endorse the analysis of Michael Halewood in his chapter ‘International efforts to pool and conserve crop genetic resources in times of radical legal change.  Read more on the Bioversity website.

New publication: Climate-smart technologies in Rakai Uganda

The role of networks in diffusion and uptake of climate-smart technologies in Rakai, Uganda. Report of project initiation workshops, 5-9 May 2014.

The role of networks in diffusion and uptake of climate-smart technologies in Rakai, Uganda. Report of project initiation workshops, 5-9 May 2014.

The role of networks in diffusion and uptake of climate-smart technologies in Rakai, Uganda. Report of project initiation workshops, 5-9 May 2014.

This report summarizes the first steps of a project to analyze the role of networks in the diffusion and uptake of climate-smart technologies in Rakai, Uganda. The activity is part of the Policy Action for Climate Change Adaptation (PACCA) project funded by Climate Change for Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). We held two workshops. The first was a participatory assessment with farmers in Rakai to understand their perceptions of climate change and resilience of their landscapes, using “indicators of resilience in socio-ecological production landscapes (SEPLs)”. The second was a workshop to develop the project work plan and tools, including a forthcoming smallholder farmers survey on networks, technologies and practices to better understand how farmers in Rakai communicate and exchange knowledge about farming practices.

The publication is now available from Bioversity International.  Presentations made at the planning meeting are available here: Caroline Mwongera Trade Off Analysis; Edidah Ampaire CCAFS PACCA_Policy Initiative; Eliezer Moses CCAFS in Tanzanzia; Michael Halewood PACCA Policy Network Survey; Geoffrey Lubinga State of the environment in Rakai district