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:

We look forward to receiving feedback on the content and practical use of the resource box.

Ronnie Vernooy, on behalf of the contributors



CISDL study on access and benefit sharing measures

The Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) has published the Third Edition of Overview of National and Regional Measures on ABS: Challenges and Opportunities in Implementing the Nagoya Protocol.  It provides a near comprehensive overview of ABS measures around the globe prior to the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol, as well as an assessment of forthcoming challenges.

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.

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.

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

Story by Gea Galluzzi and Isabel Lapeña

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

Photo by Gea Galluzzi

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

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

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

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

The workshop resulted in participants gaining more knowledge about the project, the International Treaty and its Multilateral System of benefit-sharing and about relations with the Nagoya Protocol. In general, it raised an interest among relevant national stakeholders about conservation and use of PGRFA and set very good basis for fruitful development of the project.