Course announcement: Contemporary approaches to genetic resources conservation and use

We the have pleasure to share the fellowship application for the international training course ‘Contemporary approaches to genetic resources conservation and use’ co-organized by the Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen University and Research, and Bioversity International. The course will be held in Wageningen, the Netherlands, from 9-27 April 2018. Fellowship application deadline is 18 October, 2017.  For more information about the course, visit: http://www.wur.nl/upload_mm/a/b/9/7a05b967-de92-4d0a-b60a-13d4747dc34b_20_01_2018_contemporary.pdf

 

Information about fellowships and eligible countries: https://www.studyinholland.nl/scholarships/highlighted-scholarships/kop

http://www.wur.nl/en/Expertise-Services/Research-Institutes/centre-for-development-innovation/short-courses/scholarships.htm

To apply for a fellowship: https://www.atlas-candidate.nl/index/25

To register for the course: http://www.wur.nl/en/Expertise-Services/Research-Institutes/centre-for-development-innovation/short-courses/Short_courses_2018/CDIcourse_contemporary_approaches_2018.htm

Group work during the 2017 course. Photos: Bioversity International/R.Vernooy


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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

Official opening and handing over of the Gumbu community seed bank, South Africa

On March 17, 20016, K.A. Tshikolomo (PhD, Pr. Sci. Nat), Director: Crop Production, Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, South Africa, addressed the more than 100 visitors to Gumbu village on the special occasion of the inauguration of the local community seed bank. His words in English and Venda were:

“Today’s Programme Director, Ms Noluthando Netnou-Nkoana- Director: Genetic Resources at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Dr Ronnie Vernooy- Genetic Resource Policy Specialist, Bioversity International, Rome, Italy; Dr Bhuwon Sthapit- Senior Scientist, Bioversity International- Nepal Office; Vhafuwi vha vhathu, Muhali Vho-Gumbu….Ndaa!; Distinguished guests; Farmers; Colleagues; Ladies and gentlemen… Greetings from the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and best wishes for this important event!

handover 1

Any meaningful talk on Community Seed Banks requires that they first be properly defined. Definition: ‘A Community Seed Bank (CSB) is much more than a bank for money, it is a bank for life-food’ – Woman farmer from Zimbabwe.

Kani-ha ri nga tou ri ndi bannga ya mbeu… kana ri ri ndi tshisiku tsha mbeu? …Aiwa, vha ri ndi tshisiku tsha zwiliwa zwa vhutshilo. Musi ri na tshisiku itshi vhutshilo vhu tea u leluwa.

A CSB is a seed saving initiative designed and implemented to conserve, restore, revitalize, strengthen and improve local seed systems, especially, but not solely focussed on local varieties. Seed saving initiatives have taken various forms and names: community gene bank, farmer seed house, seed hut, seed wealth centre, seed-savers group (association or network), community seed reserve, and seed library.

As the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, we would like to express our gratitude to Bioversity International for the funding of the Gumbu Community Seed Bank and for all the support provided. Also, we wish to express our appreciation to our mother department, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for identifying our Province, specifically the Mutale Municipality as a host for the initiative.

Gumbu collection 2015 and 2016

Important considerations for success of the Gumbu community seed bank

Considerations for the community seed bank itself:

-CSBs are local level institutions that contribute to seed conservation, in particular of local or farmer varieties, countering erosion of crop diversity or its loss following natural disasters and societal pressures (commercialisation, monopolisation of seed production).

-Though many CSBs were initially set up for the purpose of (1) conservation, additional functions were added over time: (2) providing access to and availability of seeds, operating as a platform for community development, and (3) contributing to seed and food sovereignty.

-CSBs provide an opportunity for interaction and integration of informal and formal seed systems, for the promotion of in-situ and ex-situ links to back up genetic resources locally as building blocks of crop improvement, food security and sustainable community development.

-CSBs should be competent and function well in terms of collection, documentation (information and traditional knowledge), regeneration, storage, distribution, and marketing of seeds of diverse local and improved varieties. Also important is introduction of latest technologies and management innovations.

-CSBs should cultivate partnerships and engage in networking and sharing of information and seeds with other informal and formal seed system actors. Some CSBs interact with researchers, extension and other development agents.

Ndi ngoho, u bvelela ha tshisiku itshi tsha Ha-Gumbu tsha vhutshilo zwi thoga uri:

Tshiimiswa itshi tshapo tshi shume zwavhudi kha u vhulunga mbeu uri ra sa xelelwe nga ifa ili lashu. Musi mbeu iyi yo vhulungwa, i a kona u wanala musi ri tshi i toda, nahone i ri fha vhudilangi ha ndisedzo ya zwiliwa;

Sa tshisiku, ri shumisane na zwinwe zwiimiswa uri mushumo washu u kone u vhonala, ri amba mushumo u ngaho u kuvhanganya na u vhulunga mbeu na lupfumo lwa ndivho-yapo, khathihi na u kovhekana na u rengisa mbeu iyi. Itali vhe’ munwe muthihi a u tusi mathuthu;

-Also, there is need for exploration of options for financial viability (funding, income generating activities), and equipping members with adequate technical knowledge. In some cases, research organisations, NGOs and developmental agents do provide technical and financial support.

-A CSB should develop niche outlets for local land races and farmer improved cultivars and strengthen the marketing of locally produced varieties.

-Successful CSBs must have effective governance and management structures, and these are formed by members of the seed banks.

A hu na inwe ndila, ri tea uri:

Ri vhe na ndila dza u kuvhanganya masheleni uri ri kone u ya phanda. Naho ri tshi nga lambedzwa zwashu nga zwinwe zwiimiswa, na rine vhane kha ri vhe na zwine ra ita, itali vhe’ hu vuswa I divusaho. Ri tea-ha u vha na mimaraga ine ra kona u isa mbeu yashu.

Ri pfumbudze mirado ya tshisiku itshi i vhe na ndivho na vhutsila ha u ita mishumo ine tshisiku itshi tsha tea u i swikela… i tshi nga vha mishumo ya zwa thekiniki kana ya vhuvhusi na vhulangi.

Women group of Gumbu CSB.jpg

Considerations for other players

-Success of CSBs is also influenced by such issues as infrastructure (roads, communication, etc), local culture, politics, occurrence of natural disasters, and civil unrests. Support to CSBs is therefore very necessary, be it from government, traditional authorities, political and other community structures.

-Well operational CSBs need recognition, and this can be in the form of: visits by officials, awards for special efforts and achievements, and invitations to important (policy) events. Recognition may include funding and other support by government and donor agencies.

Kha ri shumisane zwavhudi na muvhuso washu, mahosi…Muhali washu Vho-Gumbu vha re vhukati hashu, zwinwe zwisiku zwi re kha lashu, zwiimiswa zwa u sedzulusa (research) na zwa pfunzo, na mazhendedzi a mveledziso uri ri kone u bvelela.

Maintaining the spirit of hard work, commitment and discipline, keeping clear strategies for governance, management, and income generation, and establishing networks and linkages with all relevant stakeholders, Gumbu Community Seed Bank is bound to succeed… I declare the Gumbu Community Seed Bank officially opened, and I accordingly hand over this important facility to the community… I thank you.”

dance 2

Photos: Ronnie Vernooy/Bioversity International.

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.

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/

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.

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>.

 

 

 

Community seed banks and the International Year of Family Farming 2014

2014 is the International Year of Family Farming. Around the world, events are organized to celebrate this special year. In a recent blog, Pitambar Shrestha, Programme Officer of LI-BIRD based in Nawalparasi, described how one such event,  “Planet Nepal 3,” was recently held in Kathmandu, Nepal. Among the many things to visit -art exhibition, acrobatic show, concert, films, farmers’ market-, LI-BIRD put up a community seed bank stall.The stall exhibited 365 local varieties, including 162 of rice, among which the famous Jumli Marshi rice from Jumla. Read the full story at: http://www.libird.org/app/news/view.aspx?record_id=18

New article about community seed banks

Pitambar Shrestha, Gea Galluzzi, Bhuwon Sthapit and Ronnie Vernooy recently published an article about the multiple functions and services of community seed banks, based on a study of community seed banks around the world. You can download the article freely from the journal Resources.

Vernooy, R.; Sthapit, B.; Galluzzi, G.; Shrestha, P. 2014. The multiple functions and services of community seed banks. Resources. Resources 3, 636-656. Available from: http://www.mdpi.com/2079-9276/3/4/636

Crop diversification strategies for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

Presenting group work during workshop in Lao. Credit: Bioversity International/RVernooy

Presenting group work during workshop in Lao. Credit: Bioversity International/RVernooy

Ronnie Vernooy, Bioversity International and Vongvilay Vongkhamsao, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute of Laos write about crop diversification strategies for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, following a workshop held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, 2-3 October 2014.

The governments of Cambodia and Lao PDR have made strong commitments to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation into their national and sectorial development policies and action plans. Vietnam has also started to address climate change adaptation at national and sub-national levels.

Governments in all three countries have identified a series of agriculture-based interventions as priorities to strengthen the resilience of smallholder farmers, most notably, crop diversification. How to practically implement effective policy measures that benefit smallholder farmers, however, remains a challenge. Research could help develop a number of pilot experiences at sub-national scale to test and assess promising measures.

Continue reading on the Bioversity website.

 

Côte d’Ivoire : les avances d’un avant-projet de loi

LES REGLES D’ACCES AUX RESSOURCES GENETIQUES ET DROITS DES COMMUNAUTES LOCALES EN VUE DE LA MISE EN PLACE DU CADRE JURIDIQUE ET INSTITUTIONNEL RELATIF AU SYSTEME MULTILATERAL

par Edmond Koffi et Ronnie Vernooy

Du 25 au 26 septembre 2014 s’est tenu, à l’Etoile du Sud, à Grand-Bassam (République de Côte d’Ivoire), un atelier sur la validation de l’avant-projet de loi relatif aux règles d’accès aux ressources génétiques et droits des communautés locales en vue de la mise en place du cadre juridique et institutionnel relatif au système multilatéral, dans le cadre du projet de renforcement des capacités nationales pour la mise en œuvre du traité international sur les ressources génétiques pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture et de son système multilatéral d’accès et de partage des bénéfices. L’atelier a réuni 34 participants représentants des Départements ministériels, de Bioversity International, de la Commission Recherche, Science, Technologie et Environnement de l’Assemblée Nationale, du Secrétariat Général du Gouvernement, d’autorités administratives et coutumières locales, des Centres de recherche, des Universités et des Organisations professionnelles agricoles.

Les participants. Photo:  Mr ADOU Kadio Jean Louis

Les participants. Photo: Mr ADOU Kadio Jean Louis

L’objectif de l’atelier était, d’une part, de permettre aux décideurs représentant les différentes parties prenantes institutionnelles et techniques concernées par la question des ressources génétiques, de s’approprier et de valider l’avant projet de loi portant sur les règles d’accès aux ressources génétiques et droits des communautés locales, et, d’autre part, de doter la Côte d’Ivoire d’une loi unique qui prend à la fois en compte les exigences du Protocole de Nagoya et celles du Système Multilatéral du TIRPAA. Continue reading