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.

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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.

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

Conference on the Knowledge Commons

Announcing the Second Global Thematic IASC Conference on the Knowledge Commons: Governing Pooled Knowledge Resources with special attention to the fields of medicine and the environment, September 5-7, 2014, New York University School of Law, New York, USA.  Topics include: Knowledge commons approaches to scientific research and Traditional and local communities’ knowledge.  Note the call for paper on topics including global crop commons and local agricultural and seed knowledge networks. Submission deadline is 28 February 2014.  Deadline extended to 15 March 2014.

“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)

Embracing diversity

Embracing diversity: inputs for a strategy to support community seedbanks in South Africa’s smallholder farming areas Report of field visits to Limpopo and Eastern Cape, is the result of the field mission carried out by Ronnie Vernooy and Bhuwon Sthapit of Bioversity International and Thabo Tjikana, Angeline Dibiloane, Nkat Maluleke and Tovhowani Mukoma of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa in fulfillment of a grant provided by South Africa to Bioversity International to assist with the development of a policy strategy to support community seed banks. The announcement about the report can be found on the Bioversity International home page and at this link: http://www.bioversityinternational.org/news/detail/supporting-community-seedbanks-in-south-africa/

At the seedfair in Limpopo (photo: R. Vernooy)

At the seedfair in Limpopo (photo: R. Vernooy)

New book – national experiences implementing the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing

The multilateral system of access and benefit sharing: case studies on implementation in Kenya, Morocco, Philippines and Peru.

The multilateral system of access and benefit sharing: case studies on implementation in Kenya, Morocco, Philippines and Peru.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture entered into force in 2004. While a number of member countries have made considerable progress implementing its multilateral system of access and benefit sharing, others have clearly experienced challenges and delays. In this new book, experts from Kenya, Morocco, Philippines and Peru share their countries’ experiences in the ratification and implementation of the Treaty. The incentives to implement the multilateral system are numerous but so are the challenges. The book illustrates common challenges and identifies measures that could be adopted to advance implementation. We hope this is of value in the design of implementation strategies to benefit all users of plant genetic resources.

Read more and download the PDF.

Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property Rights Training Opportunity

Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property Rights (GRIP) is an advanced international training programme financed by Sida.The programme aims to enhance managerial and technical skills in the field of IP, contribute to processes of change and development in the participants’ organizations and provide guidance in the policy formation of IP and innovation systems.

The next GRIP programme will be carried out in Sweden in May 2013 with a follow up seminar in a participanting country in November 2013. [Download brochure and application form].  The closing date for applications is 15 January 2013.

New Paper – Malaysia’s Implementation of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing

malaysia coverBioversity International and the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute are pleased to announce their co-publication of a paper by Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar, Executive Director of the Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Law, Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.

Click here to access and download the paper. 

The paper analyzes issues related to the implementation of the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing in Malaysia. One of the main issues considered in the paper is whether PGRFA collections held by parastatal organizations are ‘under the management and control’ of the Malaysian national government ‘and in the public domain’ and therefore automatically included in the multilateral system. The paper offers a framework for analysis that can be used in other countries in situations where the ‘under the management and control’ status of PGRFA is not clear.

The paper also analyzes the relationship of Malaysia’s approach to implementing the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing under the ITPGRFA to other access and benefit sharing rules that are being considered pursuant to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Ultimately the paper suggests means by which the future CBD-ABS draft law can exempt the ongoing operation of the multilateral system from its scope.

For more information, you may visit a blog post from earlier this year about the national consultative workshop that was held in Kuala Lumpur as part of the process of developing this paper.

Access and benefit sharing debated

First session of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Ad Hoc Technical Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing for Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

FAO CGRFA Working Group on ABS, Svalbard, Norway, 11-13 September 2012. Credit: R Vernooy/Bioversity

Report by Ronnie Vernooy

From 11-13 September 2012, about 60 delegates and observers came together in the town of Longyearbyen, Norway – better known as  the location of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault – to review and discuss appropriate access and benefit sharing modalities and measures for genetic resources for food and agriculture in a number of sub-sectors (forest, animal, aquatic, micro-organisms and invertebrates).   Continue reading