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.

Making access and benefit sharing work for family farmers and agroecology

CALL FOR PAPERS

In a forthcoming special issue of the magazine “Farming Matters,” ILEIA in collaboration with Bioversity will explore if and how access and benefit sharing related to plant genetic resources can work for family farmers and agroecology. The publication will primarily be based on experiences of family farmers from around the world and aims to inform farmers and practitioners, researchers, civil society, and policy makers. It will be published in collaboration with Bioversity International. Topics of interest include: linking ABS issues with  in-situ agricultural diversity  conservation and use, dynamic partnerships and projects linking in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use,  promotion of  farmers’ and indigenous peoples’ access to genetic resources and know-how, use of community protocols for ABS, management of biocultural landscapes, biopiracy prevention, promotion and recognition of farmers and indigenous peoples in natural resource management decision-making, climate change adaptation, poverty alleviation, training of farmers to take advantage of the ITPGRFA, and participatory plant breeding.

For the full text of the call, see the web announcement here or at http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/get-involved/participate/call-for-contributions-access-and-benefit-sharing-can-it-work-for-family-farmers-and-agroecology

We encourage you to submit an article together with research partners!

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.

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.

Opportunity: International PhD Programme in Agrobiodiversity, Italy

The Institute of Life Sciences at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa, Italy (SSSA) announces its International PhD Programme in Agrobiodiversity, in collaboration with the Italian National Academy of Sciences and funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MiUR).
The Course aims to contribute to the enhancement of human resource capacity in the utilisation and management of biodiversity in agricultural and natural systems, to improve the sustainability of agriculture and the conservation of genetic resources and agroecosystem (bio)diversity for the well-being of present and future generations.
Six scholarships are available to motivated students from any country. Applications from developing countries are particularly welcome. The application must include description of a research project that the candidate would like to carry out during the three-year period of the PhD. Examples of research themes are indicated in the Call for Applications. English will be the one and only language for all activities envisaged in the PhD Programme.

Further information on the Programme, the Call and the Online Application Form can be found at http://www.sssup.it/agrobiodiversity. The deadline for receipt of applications is 5 September 2014. The Programme starts on 3 November 2014.

The Course has two curricula:
(A) Plant Genetic Resources (for further inquiries about possible research themes  contact Prof. Enrico Pè, m.pe@sssup.it).
(B) Functional Biodiversity in Agroecosystems (for further inquiries about possible research themes contact Prof. Paolo Bàrberi, barberi@sssup.it for topics related to Agroecology or Dr Francesco Licausi, f.licausi@sssup.it for topics related to Crop Physiology).

For general information,  contact info-phdlifesciences@sssup.it

Cooperating to make the best use of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa: A regional imperative

Cooperating to make the best use of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa: A regional imperative

Cooperating to make the best use of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa: A regional imperative

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are a precious heritage of the people of West and Central Africa.  The region is endowed with diversified agroecosystems in which crop diversity plays an integral role by contributing to the provision of food and ecosystem services.   There is a growing challenge, however, in ensuring that those resources are sustainability used and conserved for future generations. For example, in some parts of the region in situ crop diversity is threatened by a number of factors including unsustainable farming practices, changing food preferences,  urbanization, and climate change.

It is encouraging to note that despite these challenges, there is a growing awareness of the importance of plant genetic resources in West and Central Africa. This publication, now available from Bioversity International, presents an overview of the collaborative efforts of key actors in the subregion over the last 10 years, from conservation programmes, to high-level regional directives, to national efforts to participate in the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Overall, these papers make a compelling case for continued subregional (and global) cooperation to sustainably and equitably use and conserve plant genetic resources.

GRPI2 mid-term review workshop report available

GRPI2 mid term review workshop report

Report of the GRPI2 mid-term review workshop

The project “strengthening national capacities to implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture” (ITPGRFA) or GRPI2 recently underwent an external mid-term review. A workshop with the external evaluators and project partners from Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Bhutan, Nepal and University of Illinois at Chicago, was held at Bioversity International headquarters, Rome, 16-19 July 2013.

The report of the workshop is available from Bioversity International. It summarizes progress made by Bioversity and partners and proposes next steps in project implementation.

Some photos from the workshop (credit: E. Clancy/Bioversity International):

GRPI2 mid term review meeting GRPI2 mid term review meeting GRPI2 mid term review meeting GRPI2 mid term review meeting

The International Treaty in the classroom

“Now, after the course, I feel like I know a lot about agricultural policies and laws. That will be very useful for me in my work back home.” (A course participant during the evaluation session on May 3, 2013)

Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

Photo: Ronnie Vernooy

From April 15-May 3, 2013, 27 professionals from 21 countries took part in the international course Contemporary approaches to genetic resources conservation and use organized by the Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen University and Research Centre. During three weeks, they learned about and debated the merits of in situ and ex situ conservation strategies, conventional and participatory plant breeding approaches, practices of sustainable use and, notably, the relevance and impact of policies on conservation and use of plant genetic resources. Continue reading

New book – Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons

Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons

Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons

We are very pleased to announce the publication of Crop Genetic Resources as a Global Commons: Challenges in International Law and Governance.

The book investigates how the collective pooling and management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture can be supported through access and benefit sharing laws. Since the most important recent development in the field has been the creation of the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, many of the chapters in this book focus on that system.

The book analyzes a range of relevant background factors, including the impact of climate change on countries’ interdependence on plant genetic resources, germplasm flows in and out of international genebanks, crops specfic research programs, and countries as a whole. It considers the historical development and mechanics of the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing.  It provides space for leaders in the field to reflect on what has worked well, and where challenges remain in terms of the multilateral system’s performance as a central feature in a global system of collective action to conserve, and sustainably use plant genetic diversity, and equitably share benefits derived from that use. Finally, it identifies options for policy initiatives to further strengthen the support which the multilateral system provides the global crop commons.

Here is what some reviewers have said about the book so far.

“A rigorous, in-depth analysis of successful commons governance on a global scale has long been an under-researched, often overlooked and poorly understood area of study. Yet the critical importance collaborative management of global resources requires urgent attention. In this groundbreaking volume, Halewood, Noriega, and Louafi have assembled an international group of leading scholars and practitioners to systematically guide us through the complex terrain of crop genetic resources and agricultural biodiversity as global commons. The thoroughness of the analysis along with the lessons learned from practical applications will serve as indispensable tools for students of all types of global-commons resources.” – Charlotte Hess, co-editor with Elinor Ostrom of ‘Understanding Knowledge as a Commons’ and Associate Dean for Research, Collections, and Scholarly Communication for Syracuse University Library

“The preservation and enhancement of agrobiodiversity is of huge importance in a world that shall witness more disruptive climate shocks in the future, and in which food-deficit regions shall be increasingly dependent on food-surplus regions. This volume makes a strong case for governing plant genetic resources in ways that promote the evolution and conservation of agrobiodiversity, and to ensure that they are available to be used by all regions to adapt better to a changing environment. Yet, it is more than just another book about the governance of natural resources by the best experts in the field: it is also an indispensable tool to understand the future of agriculture in a world of dwindling resources and biodiversity loss.” – Olivier de Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food 

“These meticulous studies of the FAO Treaty are of major theoretical and empirical importance to scholars and practitioners seeking a workable, transnational regime to govern all genetic resources for research and benefit sharing under the evolving international legal framework.” – Jerome H. Reichman, Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law, Duke Law School, USA

Over forty academics and practioners working in the field of agricultural biodiversity have contributed to 19 chapters.

More details about the book are available from Routledge.

This title is the fourth in the ‘Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity’ series co-published by Routledge and Bioversity International.

We have some copies available, for free, for libraries, research and farmers’ organziations in developing countries. Please contact bio-policy[at]cgiar.org to request a copy. Remember to provide a full mailing address.

Policy brief on sustainable use of plant genetic resources

 new strategies and partnerships for the sustainable use of plant genetic resources

Policy brief on new strategies and partnerships for the sustainable use of plant genetic resources

Bioversity International’s Policy Unit has developed a policy brief on new strategies and partnerships for the sustainable use of plant genetic resources.  The brief was presented to the Ad Hoc Technical Committee on the Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA)of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture when they met recently to develop their programme of work.

The brief uses case studies to show how farmers and community organizations are successfully collaborating with research organizations to strengthen diverse agricultural systems, including informal seed systems,  conserve and improve traditional crop varieties, and facilitate improved access to genetic diversity.  Read more. Download the PDF