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

 

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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.

Formation sur les systèmes de semences robustes face aux changements climatiques

Ouagadougou, 26 au 28 mai 2014

Par Koffi Emmanuel Kassin et Edmond Koffi

Du 26 au 28 mai 2014, nous avons pris part à atelier de formation sur les systèmes de semences robustes face aux changements climatiques organisé par l’INERA et Bioversity International à Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). Cet atelier s’inscrit dans le cadre du renforcement de capacités nationales pour la mise en œuvre du Traité International sur les Ressources Phytogénétiques pour l’Alimentation et l’Agriculture (TIRPGAA). Ont pris part à cette formation une vingtaine de participants (chercheurs, enseignants chercheurs et étudiants) venus de la Côte d’Ivoire et du Burkina Faso.

Participants de l'atelier Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Participants de l’atelier
Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Trois objectifs étaient assignés à cette rencontre. Il s’agissait d’une part, d’initier les participants aux outils du Système d’Information Géographique (SIG) pour la recherche de ressources phytogénétiques dans un contexte de changements climatiques, d’autre part de les familiariser à l’utilisation des outils SIG à travers des exercices pratiques à partir des données provenant des pays respectifs et enfin d’identifier les étapes prochaines pour l’application des outils dans des projets de recherche au Burkina Faso et en Côte d’Ivoire. La formation a été dispensée par Ronnie Vernooy de Bioversity International (Rome) et Gloria Otieno de Bioversity international Uganda avec l’appui de Sognigbe N’Danikou de Bioversity International Benin. Outre les chercheurs du CNRA, l’équipe de la Côte d’Ivoire comprenait deux enseignants chercheurs : Dr DIBI Pauline et Dr Koné Moussa de l’UFR Géographie Tropicale de l’Université Félix Houphouët Boigny.

Le programme de l’atelier d’une durée de trois jours s’est articulé autour de 4 points essentiels : 1. Introduction au cycle de recherche sur les systèmes de semences robustes face aux changements climatiques; 2. Acquisition, préparation des données d’accession et installation des logiciels; 3. Initiation aux outils DIVA-GIS et Analogue climatique; 4. Exercice de groupe.

DIVA-GIS et Analogue climatique

DIVA-GIS qui est un logiciel gratuit de cartographie sur internet. Initiation à DIVA-GIS a porté sur comment : élaborer des cartes de distribution à différentes échelles de la diversité biologique ; extraire les données climatiques des points de collecte des accessions ; prédire la présence d’espèces en fonction du climat actuel (1970-2000) et futur (2020-2050) en utilisant BIOCLIM. Avec l’outil « Analogue climatique » nous avons fait des simulations de changements climatiques, afin d’identifier les ressources adaptées à chaque type de scenario. En effet, cet outil est efficace pour : – prévoir l’agriculture de demain ; – déterminer des sites analogues actuels et futurs à partir de 19 indices bioclimatiques.

L’exercice de groupe a consisté à vérifier les connaissances acquises lors de la phase précédente. Ainsi, les participants ont été répartis en trois groupes dont deux pour le Burkina Faso et 1 pour la Cote d’Ivoire. Chaque équipe a eu à travailler sur les données nationales pour produire des cartes de répartition des accessions en fonction des zones climatiques et déterminer des sites analogues actuels et futurs. Les travaux des différentes équipes ont été présentés puis critiqués avant la clôture de l’atelier.

 

Participants de Côte d’Ivoire Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Participants de Côte d’Ivoire
Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Apprentissages

Au cours de la formation, avons vu quelques aspects de l’utilisation des outils SIG. Toutefois, ils peuvent contribuer à mettre à jour les informations sur les sites de collecte des ressources phytogénétiques, réaliser un plan de la diversité des cultures au niveau global ou par pays, analyser et caractériser la diversité des ressources phytogénétiques ou faire une analyse complémentaire de la biodiversité pour la combinaison de traits et enfin identifier les sites correspondants potentiels pour la culture de variétés dans des conditions de stress biotiques et abiotiques.

Ces outils peuvent également permettre de faire une classification des collections basées sur le critère de l’adaptation climatique, fournir des informations climatiques (pluie mensuelle, température minimale et maximale) pour les sites de collecte individuels, élaborer des cartes climatiques de divers paramètres climatiques et leurs combinaisons. Ils peuvent également permettre de définir des lignes directrices pour développer des stratégies de collecte de nouvelles collections ainsi que pour la re-collecte du matériel génétique.

Ces outils apparaissent indispensables pour les chercheurs, particulièrement les sélectionneurs et les gestionnaires des ressources phytogénétiques. Une restitution à l’attention de ces sélectionneurs ainsi que des géographes et de tous ceux qui sont impliqués dans des travaux touchant au changement climatique s’avère nécessaire en vue d’une plus large diffusion de ces outils et d’une dissémination étendue des connaissances dans ce domaine.

 

 

 

 

“Resilient seed systems: tools and techniques for climate change adaptation”

Giving farmers better access to crop and crop varietal diversity will strengthen their capacity to adapt to climate change. Climate and crop modeling tools are increasingly used to project the adaptive capacity of a given crop to the 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 better adapted to future climate-changes in specific sites. Researchers, genebank managers and farmers could then attempt to gain access to potentially useful plant genetic resources through the multilateral system of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Once obtained, they could evaluate these new plant genetic resources in farmers’ fields.

(Photo: R.Vernooy)

(Photo: R.Vernooy)

Bioversity International is assisting Bhutanese and Nepali research and development agencies to design and implement a comprehensive capacity building strategy to access and use plant genetic resources in the context of climate change adaptation. The workshop “Resilient seed systems: tools and techniques for climate change adaptation,” held in Thimpu, November 26-28, 2013, aimed to strength the capacity to integrate climate modeling in crop improvement strategies. Topics covered were: identification of farmers’ perceptions of climate change; analysis of climate changes and their impact on seed systems; identification of plant genetic resources that have potential to adapt to identified climate changes; mechanisms for the acquisition of plant genetic resources that have potential to adapt to identified climate changes; and planning of field testing of newly acquired plant genetic resources. 20 participants from Bhutan and 8 from Nepal attended the workshop. GIS tools introduced were DIVA-GIS, MaxEnt, and the climate analogue tool. Resource persons were Prem Mathur, Sarika Mittra, Michael Halewood and Ronnie Vernooy.

Photo: R. Vernooy
Photo: R. Vernooy

 

The workshop was hosted by the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) of the Ministry of Agricutlure and Forests of Bhutan. The national genebank of Bhutan is located at NBC. A workshop news link can found here: http://www.bbs.bt/news/?p=34226

 

Visiting the NBC. (Photo: R. Vernooy)

Visiting the NBC. (Photo: R. Vernooy)

Adapting to climate change: training workshop for teams of Bhutan and Nepal

By Pashupati Chaudhary, LI-BIRD, Nepal

Agrobiodiversity plays a pivotal role in securing food and nutrition and enhancing resilience of agriculture to climate change. As the climate is becoming more erratic and unpredictable than in the past, it has become increasingly difficult to properly manage agrobiodiversity to sustainably produce food. One of the challenges is the lack of scientific knowledge to predict climate dynamics in particular regions. Another challenge is to develop and deploy crop varieties that are adapted to changing climatic conditions. Climate Analogue Tool (CAT), a recently developed tool by partners of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) programme is a remarkable breakthrough in tackling this problem. CAT can identify a) future climate conditions of a particular location and sites that currently resemble these conditions (b) locations that currently have or in the future will have similar climate conditions, and c) locations that in the future will have current climate conditions of a particular place. Based on careful analyses done using the Climate Analogue Tool and supported by data from actual conditions in farmers’ fields, scientists can identify possible appropriate plant genetic resources, deploy suitable varieties, and develop new varieties for specific locations of interest.

Recently, the Genetic Resources Policy Initiative 2 project, led by Bioversity International, organized a three-day long training workshop on Climate Analogue Tools in order to enhance skills of Nepal and Bhutan project staff in analyzing, interpreting and presenting climate data. 18 scientists, managers, and development professionals representing government organizations, national research programs, gene banks and non-governmental organizations of both countries participated in the training that was facilitated by Bioversity International scientists.  Continue reading