Celebrating the life of Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi

Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

By Michael Halewood

We are writing this blog post to celebrate the life of Jean Rwihaniza Gapusi, who passed away in September 2016.

A number of us at Bioversity got to know Jean over the course of six years of working together on the Genetic Resources Policy Initiative. Jean was the national team coordinator for the project in Rwanda.  He was also, over the course of his career, a Project Officer at  ASARECA; a Senior Research Fellow in Tree Seed Centre; the Curator of Rwanda National Gene bank (RNGB); Head of Station for the Rwanda Agriculture Board; and a researcher at the Institut de Recherche Scientifique et Technologique. He was the Rwanda National Focal Point for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and also the National Focal Point for access and benefit sharing issues under the Convention on Biological Diversity. He was also a teacher, a pastor, a husband and a father of eight children.

Jean immediately impressed people with his generous, calm, open manner. One felt immediately at home in his presence, even though he was someone with a great deal of seniority, and professional gravitas.  He was wise, insightful, fun, sensitive, … even noble. Noble is not a word one hears used much these days to describe people, but it fits Jean.

I personally got to spend many, many hours with Jean, bouncing around in his truck, driving to distant project sites across Rwanda. And we met in many places around the world at conferences, negotiations and project governance meetings. He was informed and passionate about his country, especially the farmers and local natural resource managers.  He cared deeply about Rwanda, about Africa, about rural development, combating poverty and injustice. He was exceptionally serious about making the world a better place but managed to treat the rest of us to his light, warm, rolling sense of humour as he pursued that goal.

Jean was an excellent research partner and leader. He took a ‘big tent’ approach that was open and inclusive, drawing people into activities, getting the best out of them, making room for more junior partners, spending time to develop their skills, ultimately building teams that were greater than the sum of their individual parts.

Jean was a great man. We will miss him.

Jean with Michael Halewood and Leontine Crisson. Leontine spent 6 months working with Jean in Rwanda on the GRPI2 project.

Jean with Michael Halewood and Leontine Crisson. Leontine spent 6 months working with Jean in Rwanda on the GRPI2 project.

GRPI2 first project planning meeting, 6-10 February 2012, Rome, Italy. Jean is in the second row from the front, third from the left in the pink shirt. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

GRPI2 first project planning meeting, 6-10 February 2012, Rome, Italy. Jean is in the second row from the front, third from the left in the pink shirt. Credit S. Landersz/Bioversity International.

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.

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

Participatory research and capacity strengthening in East Africa – linking farmers, scientists and policy makers to use crop diversity for climate change adaptation

The threat of climate change has raised concern among scientists as well as farmers as crop growth, agricultural production and subsequently food security could be severely affected by changes in temperature and precipitation which are key to agricultural production.

Participatory research and capacity strengthening in East Africa took place in Uganda in September and involved teams from Uganda and Rwanda consisting of scientists, climate change specialists, GIS specialists, breeders and agricultural extension workers using GIS and other methods to identify germ plasm suited for future climate. As part of the training, scientists were involved in a visit to one of the local community gene banks in Kabwohe – Uganda. In addition, the scientists, using participatory approaches were able to discuss climate change and resilience with bean farmers from three communities in Uganda and Rwanda; and using participatory approaches, discuss and rank farmer varieties fro traits such as drought tolerance, resistance to pests and diseases, yields among others. The communities were from previously selected reference sites in Rwanda (Bugesera and Rubaya) and Uganda (Kabwohe) and two of these communities have community seed banks.  A CSB exchange visit was organized for members of the Rubaya community seed bank from Rwanda bank to visit Kabwohe community seed bank in Uganda for learning experiences as well as to discuss modalities for seed exchange among the two communities. The two gene banks were able to share with each other and with scientists their experiences in conservation and management of their bean diversity.

As a result of this exercise, the two countries have identified germ plasm for climate change adaptation within their  national gene bank collections which they are exchanging using the SMTA. Some of these germ plasm is already being subjected to trials in different agro-ecological zones i.e. in the reference sites. The research teams are also expanding their search for potentially adapted germ plasm to ex situ collections hosted by the CGIAR centers, USDA, and in European countries, and a database of variety evaluation trial results (Ag Trials). The accessions were clustered based on their different climatic variables and crops suitability mapping done to identify accessions that would be suitable for these areas in the year 2050 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Some accessions suitable in reference sites in 2050

 Image

In addition, through participatory methods with scientists, farmers were able to document their observed changes in climate and weather patterns; their coping mechanisms and the desired traits for germ plasm they would like to have in order to c help them to cope with vagaries of weather an climate. Furthermore farmers identified varieties within their gene banks and further classify them based on their traits, an exercise which facilitated farmer selection of climate resilient varieties for exchange. One emerging challenge is that these materials in community gene banks are not in the MLS and modalities for their exchange have to follow national laws within the two countries. As such these two community gene banks with the help of their respective National Agricultural Research Organizations are working modalities with which these farmers can exchange germ plasm.

 Figure 2: Scientists discuss with farmers their climate vulnerabilities

Image

Climate analogues for Rwanda and Uganda – building capacity to exploit the multilateral system

Report by Gloria Otieno, Bioversity-Uganda.

The Climate Analogues Tool, developed by CIAT and CCAFS (CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) identifies areas where current climate corresponds to predicted future climate at a chosen reference site of interest. The use of the tool within Bioversity International’s GRPI2 project should allow partners to identify germplasm from the analogues sites, which could perform well under the future climatic conditions of their reference sites. Germplasm from the identified analogue sites, in or out of the country, can be accessed through the multilateral system created by the International Treaty, by consulting databases such as Genesys. Teams from Rwanda and Uganda took part in a training workshop, from 21-23 November 2012, in Kigali, Rwanda, to learn hands-on about the tool. Continue reading

National kick-off workshop in Rwanda

Story by Léontine Crisson and Jean R. Gapusi

On 17 and 18 July 2012 in Kigali, Rwanda, the national kick-off workshop for the project  “Strengthening national capacities to implement the ITPGRFA” took place hosted by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB). RAB is the coordinating institution of the project and responsible for the implementation of the ITPGRFA. Participants came from various RAB research programmes, delegates from universities, the farmer cooperatives confederation and Bioversity International. Jean Gapusi (RAB), the national focal point for both the ITPGRFA and the Nagoya Protocol (CBD), introduced the project background. He explained that within RAB a taskforce on genetic resources has been set up to work on issues of access and benefit-sharing. He mentioned that Rwanda is in the process of developing regulations on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and of drafting of a bioprospecting policy. Michael Halewood from Bioversity International clarified the steps to operationalize the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing, first of all the confirmation which of the plant genetic resources from Rwanda  are automatically under the multilateral system (MLS), and which are voluntarily included, followed by the sharing of this information publicly, including through notifying this to the ITPGRFA Secretariat. The crops that are automatically included are those Annex 1 crops and forages that are under the management and control of the national government and in the public domain. He stressed the importance of having the legal space to implement the multilateral system, including knowing who would be authorized to provide materials through use of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA). Participants then discussed the five research themes of the project.

The second day was dedicated to training. Various more in depth presentations were made. Carlo Fadda from Bioversity International’s regional office in Nairobi introduced concept of ‘climate analogues’ – identifying parts of the world that have a climate that is similar now to the way the climate will be in reference sites in the future. He also introduced the ‘climate analogues tool’ which has been developed by CIAT and the CCAFS (Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security research program of the CGIAR) to assist in such analysis. Through use of the tool, Rwandan research teams will attempt to identify potentially useful germplasm from analogue sites that they can access through the multilateral system. Léontine Crisson, seconded from the Dutch Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation to Bioversity International, and working with the Rwandese team for three months, introduced the need-to-know about the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing of the CBD, and its relations to the ITPGRFA.

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 on access and benefit-sharing under the Biodiversity Convention.