Session II: Day one (27 April) 10.20-13.00

Agrobiodiversity and resilience of livelihood systems

Innovative approaches in climate change adaptation

Jacob van Etten
Bioversity International, Turrialba, Costa Rica

Globally, climates will remain unstable long after atmospheric CO2 peaks. So climate adaptation in agriculture is not a one-time effort; agricultural practices will need to be updated recurrently. Climate-smart agriculture needs a quick-paced process of constant, massive discovery of locally appropriate solutions. The good news is that, as mobile telephone coverage expands in rural areas, simpler, more cost-efficient and information-rich ICT-based systems become possible. Also, new sensor technologies can help to track local climates with more detail, which in turn helps to compare diverse options across different places, taking into account the diversity of agricultural systems and local cultures.

Bioversity International has developed a novel “farmer citizen science” approach, taking advantage of these technological possibilities. In this approach, each farmer tries and ranks a small number of technologies (for example, crop varieties or management practices), characterizes local conditions with cheap, reliable weather sensors, and shares information by mobile phone. The resulting information serves to create empirical, location-specific advice on climate-smart practices for farmers, helping them to constantly adapt to shifting climatic and social conditions.

The first results of experiences with this new approach show that farmers are highly motivated to participate, that the approach is relatively easy to implement and upscale and that the resulting information is of good quality. Remaining challenges are the ongoing construction of a user-friendly platform that standardizes data to make it globally comparable and accessible and the training of agricultural researchers, extension agents and farmers in using the approach.

Key Words: climate change adaptation, participatory methodologies, crop improvement, information systems 

Agricultural diversification for climate change risk management in smallholder agriculture systems

Maarten van Zonneveld1, Abigail Fallot2, Marie Turmel1
1Bioversity International, CATIE 7170 Turrialba, Costa Rica
2Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), Turrialba, Costa Rica

Agricultural diversification is thought to be an effective measure to reduce climate change-related production risks for individual smallholders in order to improve overall production stability and keep up with global food demand under global climate change. Yet, even though diversification of crops and production systems is an established strategy for many smallholders today, crop and system switching under the transformative characteristics of climate change brings in new practices and technologies and additional costs and risks. New crops require farmers and other value chain actors to overcome initial learning and investment. They can also introduce hosts of infectious diseases, or have uncertain markets. We carried out a review to understand under which agroecological and socio-economic conditions, agricultural diversification is an effective climate change adaptation measure for smallholders.

The realities of smallholders are complex and their production systems and access to resources differ according to local contexts. Therefore rather than looking at specific adaptation options like agricultural diversification, climate smart agriculture (CSA) policies and programs could be more effective when enabling flexible options that give alternatives to farmer households allowing them to define the most appropriate measures.  This allows combining agricultural diversification with other adaption options to develop integrated responses to climate change. We suggest that some of the factors limiting diversification can be overcome by providing smallholders and supporting organizations with access to information on management and seed availability of crops, trees and production systems, and also by promoting a shared understanding of trade-offs and synergies within diversification strategies. Portfolios of local adaptation options can be prioritized using participatory action research involving different stakeholder groups. This allows selecting crops and systems considering farm household needs, and ensures that these choices are linked to local food systems and value chains. Crop and tree evaluation programs including on-farm experimentation enable further testing of potential species for specific locations.

Key words: diversification, climate change adaptation, participatory methodologies

Food and nutrition security, adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change in Central America: A comprehensive participatory approach

Leida Mercado
Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza (CATIE), Turrialba, Costa Rica

The effect of global warming on food production is resulting in severe food insecurity in regions across the globe. In Central America, for example, more than half a million households (HH) are suffering from food insecurity as a consequence of the 2014-2015 drought. 

Food-based approaches that focus on dietary diversification (e.g. promoting home gardens, poultry production, and capacity development) are effective strategies for improving food security and nutrition. However, dealing with climate change and variability demands more comprehensive approaches as well.

The Mesoamerican Agroenvironmental Program (MAP), a platform that links research, education and extension, seeks to improve food security and climate resilience of small landholders in Central America by: (i) promoting innovations to increase productivity and diversification of home/community gardens and farms, including the use of trees, (ii) strengthening capacities using farmer field schools, a participatory tool that facilitates integration of local and scientific knowledge, (iii) improving HH planning capacity by developing home garden and farm plans, (iv) fostering more participation of women and youth in production decision-making, (v) advancing the sustainable use of agrobiodiversity through the establishment of germplasm/seed banks, and  the establishment of local mechanisms for germplasm exchange, and (vi) strengthening  capacity of value chains that link the local farmers to a variety of stakeholders at different geographical scales. 

The preliminary results of MAP´s approach in Trifinio and Nicaragua show: (1) a high level of adoption of the innovations promoted in order to intensify and diversify production, (2) more vegetables and poultry available for consumption at the household level, (3) a wider participation of different HH members in the production of diverse and nutritious food, (4) strong relationships between farm size, and womens’ participation in decision-making with food security.

Key Words: food security, climate change, home gardens, capacity development, agrobiodiversity value chains, participatory methodologies, gender

Big data on small farms: Sources and drivers of food security of smallholder farmers

Mark T. van Wijk
International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

To formulate effective policies adequate information on how different policy options affect the complex issues surrounding food security and sustainable development is needed. One key complicating factor for generating this adequate information is the large variability in smallholder farm households across and within sites.

In this presentation I apply two steps that are essential to make progress in this research area: First, I bring together farm household characterization data from a wide range of regions, providing an immensely rich database to derive descriptions linking food security status and land use to the socio-economic and biophysical environment of smallholder farmers. Second, I develop farm household performance indicators that can be calculated based on the diverse information available. I present a food security indicator for the individual farm household level based on production data and apply it to assess the potential for agricultural based activities to supply enough energy to feed the family, either through food and/or cash oriented activities.

Results are shown on how these data and this indicator are used for:

  1. Quantifying the relative importance of on and off farm activities for household level food security across a wide range of farming systems and farm households in sub Saharan Africa
  2. Identifying and quantifying the effects of key determinants/drivers of food security
  3. Quantifying threshold values of these key drivers that determining the switch between food insecurity and food security

I also show how these analyses can be used for risk assessments and analyses of causes and effects of on-farm diversity of activities. This work has led to an integrated set of tools for rapid farm household characterization that, by combing survey tools and analyses in one integrated framework, drastically reduces the time needed for characterization, intervention analyses, and assessment of agricultural interventions.

Key Words: indicator, food security, livelihood assets, farm production, agrobiodiversity value chains 

Monitoring resilience & indicators

Nadia Bergamini1*, Dunja Mijatovic2, Pablo Eyzaguirre1
1 Bioversity International, Rome, Italy
2 Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research, Rome, Italy

Resilience in Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes is defined as the ability of these systems to absorb or recover – in terms of both ecosystems processes and socio-economic activity – from various pressures and disturbances without lasting damage and at the same time using such events to catalyze renewal and innovation. Building on the premise that SEPLS are too complex for resilience to be measured in any precise manner, Bioversity International, in collaboration with UNU-IAS, has developed a set of 20 indicators designed to capture different aspects of key systems: ecological, agricultural, cultural and socio-economic. These indicators do not aim to provide hard, quantifiable numbers to measure resilience, but rather focus on a community’s own perceptions. By encouraging community members themselves to reflect on landscape and seascape resilience and how it can be improved, the indicators potentially give them a greater sense of ownership over management processes, hopefully leading to more lasting sustainability. Periodic use of these indicators enables monitoring of progress towards sustainable management objectives and identification of priority actions for local innovation and adaptive management. The indicators are to be used flexibly and can be customized to reflect the circumstances of each particular landscape or seascape and its associated communities.

The resilience indicators’ framework has been tested in more than 20 countries around the world across different ecosystems. A couple of case studies will be described during the conference presentation.

Key Words: resilience, socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes, indicators, participatory approaches

Documentation and monitoring for crop adaptation to climate change

Stefano Padulosi1*, Gennifer Meldrum1, Wilfredo Rojas2, Oliver King3, and Sajal Sthapit4
1 Bioversity International, Rome, Italy
2 Fundacíon PROINPA, La Paz, Bolivia
3 M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Namakkal, India
4 Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development, Pokhara, Nepal

The simplification of agricultural production systems is highly concerning for the future of food and nutrition security for the Planet. Diversification of species and varieties is embedded in farmers’ strategies to secure sustainable food production, create income options, fight pests and diseases, promote adaptation to abiotic stresses and support various ecosystem services. A robust scientific literature published in recent years has amply demonstrated that the narrower the crop diversity portfolio managed by farmers, the more vulnerable their livelihood. Documenting and monitoring diversity grown on farm is highly helpful to farmers to assess the spectrum of options they can rely on for building a robust climate change coping strategy. Whereas users have fairly good access to information related to ex situ gene banks, extremely poor is the understanding of what is currently conserved on farm and the extent of what is at risk or already lost. We argue that this condition requires the development of a new sets of approaches, methods and tools to assess status and dynamism of crop diversity on farm to prevent diversity from being lost and support its management for climate adaptation and other livelihood purposes. Over the last four years, Bioversity International and partners have been developing and testing a community-based participatory documentation approach with a special attention on neglected and underutilized species (NUS). The presentation will share the methodology applied in Bolivia, India and Nepal, present data and discuss lessons learnt. Authors will also offer their perspectives on how such a methodology could be leveraged for moving forward towards a global information system for agrobiodiversity – that currently does not exist and that could be used to monitor status and trends of these resources on farm to guide their proper conservation for the benefit of future generations.

Key Words: documentation and monitoring, agricultural biodiversity, resilience, agrobiodiversity conservation and use

Session III: Day one (27 April) 14.00-17.30

Holistic approaches for sustainable & nutrition sensitive food systems

Agrobiodiversity to improve nutrition using  a nutrition sensitive food system approach

Gina Kennedy
Bioversity International, Rome, Italy

One of the world's greatest challenges is to secure universal access not only to enough food, but healthy, safe, and high-quality food that is produced sustainably. Currently, more than 800 million people are hungry worldwide. More than 165 million children under five years of age are stunted. Of these children, 80% live in just 14 countries. Micronutrient deficiencies, otherwise known as "hidden hunger", undermine the growth, development, health and productivity of over two billion people. At the same time, across the developed and developing world, an estimated one billion people are overweight and 300 million are obese.

Moving towards sustainable diets is a key challenge of the 21st century. Sustainable food systems and diets need to be diverse and nutritionally adequate.  Sustainable food systems can maintain or even enhance agricultural productivity.  Such systems sustain the environment and ecosystem services; boost resilience, and guarantee the adequate intake of essential nutrient and non-nutrient health promoting food elements. Such systems can make local food biodiversity affordable and available for low-income rural and urban households, all year round, in sufficient quantities, and in culturally acceptable forms – all critical ingredients to improving dietary quality. Maintaining the agrobiodiversity resource base within local food systems is critical to achieving improvements in dietary quality and food system sustainability, especially given that 70% of the world still relies on locally-produced food. Lack of investment and attention to agricultural and tree biodiversity is a critical limitation for human nutrition and health, particularly in the developing world, where diets consist mainly of starchy staples with insufficient intakes of nutrient-rich foods, such as animal products, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Sustainably diversifying agriculture production and associated food-system components of markets, food processing and consumer awareness to increase supply and demand of year-round nutrient dense foods is the goal of the nutrition sensitive food system approach.

Key words: nutrition, dietary diversity, sustainable diets, value chains, local foods

Indigenous peoples, crop diversity and livelihoods

Phrang Roy
Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, Rome, Italy

The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development held in June 2012 called for the creation of a world that is “just, equitable and inclusive”. As the world searches for a meaningful way forward from the current climate change and food security crises, concerned citizens are turning a thoughtful gaze towards indigenous peoples. Today the world’s remaining biodiversity is concentrated on their lands. Developing a deeper understanding of the worldview and practices of indigenous communities and forming a partnership with them can help the CGIAR system to favour those at the margins of mainstream society.

Over the years, development initiatives have learned of the need to ensure a greater participatory, listening and learning approach between the knowledge systems of indigenous communities and that of the scientific community. Bioversity International is currently hosting the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty (Indigenous Partnership), which aspires to build bridges between indigenous networks and the scientific community. It is supported by several well known indigenous organisations, Bioversity International, Slow Food International and the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, Coventry University, UK.  This paper will tell the story of how The Indigenous Partnership and its partners are providing simple but innovative mechanisms for indigenous communities to rediscover their custodian farmers, revive their foraging of wild edibles, build agrobiodiversity networks and promote diverse indigenous food systems as entry points for value addition, institution building and knowledge sharing at the local economy level.  It will conclude that a climate change risk management agenda that fully involves Indigenous Peoples, their local economies for income generating activities and their indigenous local knowledge has many more benefits than if only government, research institutions and/or the private sector are involved.

Key words: indigenous people, agrobiodiversity, sustainability, local and scientific knowledge, food security

The importance of agrobiodiversity in promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture

Juliane Friedrich
IFAD, Rome, Italy

IFAD is committed to make its investments in rural farm households more nutrition-sensitive, applying a nutrition lens in projects addressing agriculture and rural development. In times with growing complexities, there are no longer simple solutions and short cuts. Agrobiodiversity is an essential tool to achieve dietary diversity as a corner stone for good nutrition; not only to reduce undernutrition but also overnutrition. There is still the expectation that increased production and increased income automatically improves the nutrition situation. Unfortunately, this is automatism does not exist. We need to be intentional in what we are doing and this starts with assessing the causes for undernutrition. Eating habits and feeding patterns are not necessarily guided by nutrition concerns. Even in poor communities, we can observe that the little money a household has might be used for so-called junk food. There are various reasons for this: it is modern which implies it is good, it is convenient, and it also satisfies the taste people are tuned to, namely salty, sweet, and fat.

Food is more than a commodity to fill the stomach. Taking examples from indigenous people, food has also emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of health, healing and protection from disease. Nevertheless, traditional and/or local food is considered as inferior and turning to traditional food like wild fruits, roots and tubers in times of food insecurity is an indicator for a bad situation without realizing that this food might have a higher nutritional value than the food consumed in good times. There are also other stories from the field, taking the example of quinoa. Whilst quinoa became a very popular food among people looking for healthy food options in the North, quinoa is no longer available and affordable in the South, for example in Bolivia. These examples underline the importance of agrobiodiversity for nutrition – one cannot go without the other.

Key words: nutrition, indignous diets, traditional foods, agrobiodiversity

Holistic approach for  enhancing the use of traditional crops: Lessons from India

E.D.I. Oliver King
M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Namakkal, India

Despite significant progress in its GDP, India is among the countries with the most malnourished children, thus facing a significant nutrition challenge. Micro-nutrient deficiency in infants and young children can lead to impaired psychomotor development, coordination and scholastic achievement, as well as reduced physical activity. Small millets (Eleusine, Setaria, Panicum, Paspalum) are sources of micro nutrients such as calcium, iron, and folic acid, in addition to being climate hardy crops. The most popular minor millet across India is finger millet, cultivated over nearly 1.6 million hectares, with annual production of 2.4 million tonnes and productivity of approx. 1,534 kg/ha. By contrast, the remaining area under other minor millets (1.1 million ha) has annual production of 0.7 million tonnes and productivity of around 635 kg/ha. 

The area under minor millet cultivation in India has significantly decreased since the 1950s, which is ascribed to a number of reasons  related to agronomic and socio-economic aspects (lack of suitable improved varieties and cultivation practices; poor extension systems for yield enhancement  and crop promotion and; lack of specific post-harvest and processing technologies for small users; low economic competiveness; poorly organized value chains; lack of attractive, modern food recipes; insufficient awareness of nutritional value and income opportunities).

With the support of IFAD and Bioversity International, these challenges were addressed in a holistic ‘7C’ approach over the last decade, involving custodian farmer communities, State government, research and development institutions, and the private sector. This presentation documents the experience and the key outcomes of applying the 7C holistic approach:

  1. Chronicling: Document farming systems and traditional knowledge in Peoples’ Biodiversity Registers; collect and characterize promising landraces and farmers varieties; establish community weather stations, village knowledge and resource center networks.
  2. Conservation: Establish linkages between in situ conservation, community seed banks, and national gene banks; develop incentives (market and non-market) for conservation / cultivation, recognize the conservation of traditional varieties; encourage registration of farmers’ varieties under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Act; strengthen the network of custodian farmers; conduct seed fairs.
  3. Cultivation:  Build capacity of farmers in quality seed production; develop promising adaptable varieties with climate resistance and nutritional value; develop and disseminate improved agronomic practices through participatory research; promote small farm mechanization; encourage R&D to develop processing equipment with a gender sensitive approach; ensure access to credit.
  4. Consumption: develop innovative new recipes through partnership with food & nutrition R&D institutions and the private sector; conduct nutrition assessment of important varieties; promote community food fairs; promote nutrition literacy and education; engage media for dissemination; include millets in public distribution systems, integrated child development schemes and other nutrition programmes.
  5. Commerce: Establish diversified value chains in favor of neglected and underutilized species; develop and promote products based on nutritious traits; partner with socially responsible private sector actors.
  6. Collectives: Mobilize millet farming communities as self-help groups, producer groups and collective entrepreneurs; encourage them to work with private sector to meet the scale.
  7. Communication: Build media relationships and communication methods for popularizing millets and products to cater to the needs of various stakeholders.

Key Words: agrobiodiversity conservation, value chain development, neglected and underutilized species, nutrition, capacity development

Green entrepreneurship: Beyond value chains to landscape approaches

Willy Douma
Hivos International, The Hague, The Netherlands

Governments still adopt high input mono-cropping as a key strategy to food security. As a consequence, mono-cropping of commercial crops has increasingly replaced traditional and diverse diets, directly affecting rural consumers and producers.

Hivos’ ‘Green food’ programme aims to contribute to sustainable diets of food-insecure rural and semi-urban households (men and women) by developing scalable and replicable solutions. Key to finding solutions is creating a vibrant, sustainable and viable link between plates and farms.  This is only possible if the policies are supportive and only viable if the market players have a shared interest.  While developing inclusive value chains is important, we started to realise that diversity increases are limited and improvements in nutritious food security slow. For this reason, Hivos’ strategies go beyond value chains towards developing ‘landscape’ level approaches, where stakeholders meet, their voices are heard and sharing observations leads to co-created solutions.

Our current programmes include 1) collaboration with the growing counter-movement of citizens, businesses and organisations opting for diversity, robustness and transparency 2) delivering proof of concept of approaches that increase local demand for diversity and remove barriers to more diverse production 3) influencing relevant policy frameworks based on growing knowledge and insights.  

In India we co-initiated the Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture (RRA) Network, a coalition of over 180 civil society organisations, research institutions, policy-makers and donor agencies.  RRA co-creates proof of concept in ‘comprehensive’ pilots. In East Africa we innovate in coffee-based landscapes through a public-private partnership with ECOM coffee company to regain vitality in the coffee sector. Triggers for change include diversification through dairy and horticulture production, while also introducing biogas digesters to secure a sustainable energy and fertilizer supply. And, worldwide we collaborate with the ‘agricultural biodiversity community (abc)’ to build open source seed systems (institutions) that aim to tackle the issue of farmers’ access to preferred seeds. Initial results show promising changes towards more diversity, new functional institutional mechanisms and openness for next steps. 

Key words: value chains, private sector, diversification, policy, seed systems, nutrition

Communities’ perspectives and participatory approaches

Silvana Maselli
Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala,  Guatemala

In 2014, a longer than usual dry period (heat wave) took place in Guatemala during the expected rainy season (July-August). The Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) and Famine Early Warning System of the United States Cooperation Agency (USAID-FEWSNET) reported losses of 80-90% of maize and 70% of the bean crop in nine Departments of Guatemala, which are both essential crops for food security.

We present results from the Plant Treaty Benefit Sharing Fund Project entitled: “Establishment of a preliminary network of Community Seed Banks (CSB) in vulnerable regions of Guatemala to provide seeds in the event of natural disaster” as an example of how participatory approaches and CSBs can improve communities ability to face climate change and food security. During the Project execution, three villages from Chiquimula and one from Zacapa suffered crop loss due to the heat wave. The Seed Bank Committee in Olopa, Chiquimula, which was established and trained by the Project, was ready to distribute seed among community members, who started their second bean sowing in September 2014 using the seed stored in their CSB. Inter-institutional participation and coordination, as well as the trust gained with farmer´s groups were crucial for project´s success. Main results and methods will be discussed in the conference presentation.

Key Words: participatory methodologies, agrobiodiversity conservation, drought, climate change, resilience, disaster recovery, community seed banks (CSBs), capacity development

Gender and climate change and some thoughts on methodology

Seema Arora-Jonsson
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

The social effects of climate change have gained attention in academic and policy literature. In the limited literature on gender and climate change, two themes predominate: women as vulnerable or virtuous in relation to the environment. Two viewpoints are regarded as obvious: women in the South will be affected more by climate change than men in those countries and that men (in general and especially so) in the North pollute more than women. The debates are structured in specific ways in relation to the North and the South. In my talk, I will trace the lineage of the arguments about women’s vulnerability or virtue to previous discussions about women, development and the environment and examine how they recur in new forms in climate debates. Following on some of these ways of thinking, I highlight how a focus on women's vulnerability or virtuousness deflects attention from inequalities on the ground and in decision-making. By reiterating statements about poor women in the South and the pro-environmental women of the North, these assumptions also reinforce North-South biases. Generalizations about women's vulnerability and virtuousness can lead to an increase in women's responsibility without corresponding rewards. There is need to contextualize debates on climate change to enable action and to respond effectively to its adverse effects in particular places. I end with some thoughts on methodology.

Key Words: gender, climate change, methodology

Session IV: Day two (28 April) 8.40-12.30 

Managing conservation & use of agrobiodiversity & the enabling environment

Let the locals lead: Empowering the poor to manage agricultural biodiversity and adversity

Bhuwon Sthapit
Bioversity International, Pokhara, Nepal

On-farm conservation efforts are not sustainable without local efforts and there are considerable gaps globally in how to consolidate local efforts on the ground. Roles of farmers as users, conservers, innovators and promoters are considered important for supporting evolutionary breeding and on-farm management of local crop diversity. We tried to i) assess whether empowering community and local institutions helps realize the dual goals of on-farm conservation and improved farmer livelihoods; ii) discuss key principles and practices that empower community and local institutions and iii) identify key indicators of empowered community and local institutions. We analyzed experiences of two long term on-farm projects: i) Strengthening the scientific basis of in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity on farm in Nepal, and ii) Conservation and sustainable use of wild and tropical fruit tree diversity in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. We found that community empowerment is the key driver to achieving the dual goals of conservation and development. This can be achieved by through the community-based biodiversity management (CBM) approach - a set of principles and practices by which communities enhance knowledge of local intraspecific diversity and improve traditional practices through continuous engagement in platforms of social learning led by community organizations. These platforms could benefit from a set of good practices, tools and methods that engage both men and women, poor and rich in collective planning and learning processes. This presentation illustrates some of the good practices from the CBM approach that are essential for empowering communities, promoting in situ - ex situ linkages, and managing adversity by mobilizing available genetic resources and participatory crop improvement.  The paper puts forward CBM as a key strategy to promote community resilience and contribute to the conservation of plant genetic resources.

Key Words: on-farm conservation, agrobiodiversity, empowerment, development, community biodiversity management, good practices Session IV con’t: Day 2 8.40-12.30

Rete Semi Rurali: Collective action for sustainable use of agrobiodiversity in farming systems

Riccardo Franciolini*, Ricardo Bocci, B. Bussi, and C. Pozzi
Rete Semi Rurali, Scandicci, Italy

Rete Semi Rural (RSR), the Italian Farmers’ Seed Network, was established in 2007 and now in 2015 consists of 34 associations. The commitment of RSR consists of supporting farmers politically and scientifically in the creation and dissemination of self- and truly sustainable organic farming systems. Until now seed policies and programmes have been inconsistent with practice and have not taken into consideration the variations that exist in European agriculture. The principles of an integrated seed system are full integration and recognition of formal and informal systems, and seed sector development approached in a pluralistic manner. RSR works towards innovative farming systems based on agrobiodiversity, where decentralized and participatory research plays an important role. The associated organizations have established long-term active collaboration with farmers, producers, consumers and research networks. RSR also represents a seed network including different stakeholders. This presentation will share experiences from RSR related to the construction of such a seed exchange network and will offer suggestions for improving the functioning and structure of this kind of network. More and more processes have been actively addressing the development and strengthening of social systems related to seeds. The emergence of new informal seed systems and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity is closely connected to the emergence of new social relationships between the involved social actors. The heterogeneous membership of RSR facilitates the connection and partnership of those social actors and encourages the emergence of informal seed systems.

Key Words: agrobidiversity, seed network, informal seed systems, conservation, institutions 

Incentive mechanisms to conserve agricultural diversity for private and public benefit, communities' livelihoods, climate-change adaptation and other ecosystem services

Adam Drucker
Bioversity International, Rome, Italy

A fundamental conundrum is experienced in most developing countries today: how to safeguard the biodiversity maintained in the fields of the rural poor—which constitutes a national and global good for adapting to climate change and maintaining future options, food security and ecosystem health—whilst meeting those same people's development needs and rights?  As many of the benefits of agrobiodiversity management are public goods, markets alone are limited in the extent to which they can adequately reward farmers for managing levels of diversity needed by society. This has led to a call for the development of positive incentive schemes being specifically mentioned by the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan for 2011–2020 (Aichi Target 3).

While value chain development can facilitate the maintenance of threatened genetic resources, such a strategy has limitations in how much it can achieve. Challenges include a tendency to focus on a narrow range of traditional crop species with high market potential but not particularly at risk, high initial investment costs and uncertain long-term success rates, as well as displacement of other threatened genetic resources where successful. 

A recently tested innovative solution to the public good provision dilemma are ‘rewards/compensation for agrobiodiversity conservation services’ (PACS) incentive schemes. Through the use of competitive tenders and in-kind, community-level rewards, these schemes have been shown to be a potentially effective complementary instrument for promoting the cost-effective maintenance of threatened genetic resources. They are capable of building on (rather than undermining) existing pro-social collective behavior, as well as accounting for participatory justice and social equity considerations – such as facilitating the participation of women, poor and younger farmers. Up-scaling nevertheless requires urgent consideration of accompanying prioritization protocols (“what to conserve?”), conservation goal setting (“how much to conserve?”), participatory monitoring schemes and agrobiodiversity-relevant ecosystem service indicator identification (including related to climate change adaptation and nutrition), as well as the establishment of a funding dialogue with potential private and public sector service purchasers and beneficiaries. 

Keywords: public good benefits, incentive mechanisms, value chain development, rewards for agrobiodiversity conservation services

Private sector engagement for agrobiodiversity-based climate adaption, nutrition security, and poverty reduction

Klaas Koolman
Koolman Consulting, Berlin, Germany

The successful implementation of adaptation strategies for climate change, including the fostering of agrobiodiversity, requires human, natural, technical and financial resources. Private entities need to be involved and engaged to mobilize these financial resources and technical capacities. Private companies and corporations have incentives to prepare their businesses for climate change. One of the strongest incentives is the fact, that because of climate change, some of today’s agricultural or food business models may simply not survive in the future. Private actors may also be incentivized to act by the emergence of new business models, new product opportunities, and the differentiation of opportunities in existing markets. Successfully attracting private sector entities to engage in agrobiodiversity-based climate change measures depends on success factors such as relevance, incentives, capacities, and perspectives. Further, apart from successful cultivation and functioning supply chains, market access is crucial. Demand for neglected and underutilized species (NUS) products has to be triggered through communication and the right branding. Under all circumstances the utilization of NUS should comply with the principles of fair and equitable sharing of benefits. In this presentation I will share some reflections on my work linking Moringa (Moringa oleifera) producers from East Africa to the German/European food market

Key Words: private sector, neglected and underutilized species, value chains, marketing 

Certification schemes and traditional crops

Michele Maccari
Instituto per la Certificazione Etica ed Ambientale, Bologna, Italy

Over the past 20 years, voluntary sustainability certification programmes have developed as important tools to build producers’ capacities to manage their production systems and businesses more sustainably and to empower them to access international markets, in many cases at more remunerative prices. These programmes have shown impressive growth in the market for the past 8-10 years, often outpacing their conventional counterparts and have demonstrated their potential value to smallholder farmers.  Certification can benefit farmers through increased returns and long term environmental improvement, which also benefit their communities and society as a whole. Certification can also offer small farmers an opportunity to stay in business through the support of consumers who are willing to pay a price premium. 

Despite many potential benefits, certification programmes also bring challenges, in particular for poorer smallholders, and to benefit, producers and agencies must properly understand and manage them. It is critical to identify and balance the investment required with the market benefits and to operate in order to maximize the social and environmental improvements. Particularly regarding the environmental aspects, there is still work to be done in order to increase the relevance of environmental elements such as the protection of biodiversity and on-farm conservation practices. These issues are scattered among different certification schemes, without providing concrete measurable benefits to smallholders.

The presentation will provide an overview of the most recognized certification schemes and programmes, putting emphasis on the environmental elements related to biodiversity, trying to investigate how those elements could be strengthened. The presentation will also make proposals for developing possible interventions, at the technical and political level, to support the importance of the biodiversity elements within the framework of certification programmes. Finally, some possible pilot initiatives will be proposed to be tested in the target countries of the Bioversity International project “Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: empowering the poor to manage risk” .

Key Words: agrobiodiversity conservation, marketing, certification, value chains

The contribution of agrobiodiversity and crop production to agricultural development

Mario Marino
The International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Rome, Italy

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) are crucial in feeding the world’s increasing population, which according to projections will reach 9.1 billion in 2050. They are the raw materials that farmers and plant breeders use to improve both the quality and productivity of our food crops. PGRFA are a vehicle of innovation for agriculture and a driver for change and increased food production. The sustainable use of PGRFA has the potential to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability, thus contributing to enhanced global food security and reducing poverty. In coming years, the integration of PGRFA with product development chains will be required to increase productivity in more marginal areas with less reliable production conditions. Concrete impact for climate adaptation through the creation of climate-ready crops has been supported by the Benefit-Sharing Fund of the International Treaty, which over the years has helped to breed new crop varieties and identify traits relevant to climate change. It is essential that additional conservation and plant breeding capacity is built up to support farmers and breeders to adapt agriculture to the changing environment. On the one hand, it is important to understand how new scientific and technological developments, such as gene discovery and genomic technologies, can be applied to implement the Treaty objectives. On the other hand, it is relevant to recognize the enormous contributions of farmers and local/indigenous communities to the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA. Supporting the Custodians of Food Crops may help advance the exchange of information on national measures affecting the realization of Farmers' Rights and concerted actions or recommendations to protect and promote them in harmony with other international instruments.

Key Words: policy, agrobiodiversity conservation, custodian famers

Building an enabling policy environment for upscaling and mainstreaming agrobiodiversity to support nutrition sensitive food systems

Danny Hunter
Bioversity International, Rome, Italy

Despite considerable strides in feeding the world’s growing population, food systems still fall short in doing so in a healthy or environmentally-friendly manner and are currently unable to address two sides of the same coin: malnutrition and obesity. Advances in agriculture have largely focused on increasing the production of a limited number of staple crops and animal species rather than promoting cultivation of nutrient-rich species. In addition to nutrition problems, advances in agriculture have also had major consequences in terms of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. Much of our food biodiversity has been neglected or lost yet it has huge potential to provide the natural richness of nutrients and bioactive non-nutrients humans require to thrive. Decades of unsustainable agricultural practices and nutrition-related interventions are now prompting calls for new thinking and approaches to better mainstream agrobiodiversity for improved food and nutrition and to support sustainable food systems. This has also led to a resurgence of interest among donors, policy makers, researchers, practitioners and consumers, accompanied by numerous high-level intergovernmental meetings and conferences, in finding ways to reshape food systems that improve nutrition outcomes. A growing number of agencies and forums, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bioversity International recognize the important role of agrobiodiversity in this growing momentum to reshape food systems. Most recently, the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) at its 15th Session in January 2015 endorsed a set of guidelines to facilitate the process of mainstreaming agrobiodiversity into policies, programmes and national and regional plans of action on nutrition which among other things provides useful guidance to support countries develop sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food systems. This presentation will explore some of these initiatives, with examples from the GEF-funded BFN project, in detail and will examine the opportunities and challenges they present for upscaling and mainstreaming agrobiodiversity for improved nutrition and other sustainable outcomes.

Key Words: nutrition-sensitive food systems, policy, mainstreaming, agrobiodiversity

Capacity development: what, where, how?

Per Rudebjer
Bioversity International, Rome, Italy

Working in poor communities in Guatemala, Mali and India, a new IFAD-EU-CCAFS project will use agricultural biodiversity to manage risks and empower the poor. The goal of the project is ‘to strengthen the capacities of women and men farmers, including indigenous communities, and other value-chain actors to manage risks associated with climate change, poor nutrition status and economic disempowerment’. The project will seek ‘proof of concept’ that better-managed traditional crops and landraces, linked to nutrition-sensitive value chains, can contribute to enhanced nutrition, income and empowerment, and to safeguarding livelihood assets. For this to happen, decisions, actions and interactions of people and organizations would need to change, compared to the current state. The project’s Theory of Change i) describes the socio-economic and agro-ecological context in which the intervention is taking place, ii) analyses the actors, organizations and networks that participate in, or influence change, iii) outlines a desired change and describes a set of activities—at  farm, community, NARS, and national and international levels—that would trigger the anticipated change.  Capacity development, both as a distinct activity, such as training, and as a process embedded in participatory action research, value chain enhancement and policy influence play a central role in the project and needs to be understood by project staff and partners alike.  Using the OECD definition of ‘capacity’ as ‘the ability of people, organizations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully’, a capacity development framework is presented to guide the planning, implementation and monitoring of the project’s capacity-related activities. A literature review of capacity development and change processes in complex adaptive systems is presented, along with practical examples and lessons from earlier projects managed by Bioversity International on upgrading value chains of neglected and underutilized species, linking nutrition and agricultural diversity, and managing climate risks at farm level.

Key words: capacity development, training, neglected and underutilized species, value chains, theory of change, policy

Session VII: day three (29 April) 13.30-17.00 

Getting the job done

Applying Outcome Mapping to research for development projects: The New IFAD-EU-CCAFS Project on NUS

Elisabetta Gotor
Bioversity International, Rome Italy

Part of the challenge in monitoring and evaluating research for development initiatives comes from the multiplicity of interventions and actors that intervene and interact along the project pathway. Since 2013 Bioversity International is encouraging and supporting the use of Outcome Mapping among its scientists and project managers as a tool for establishing an integrated system for  project and program planning, monitoring ,  evaluation  and learning (PME&L). Outcome mapping (http://www.outcomemapping.ca/) is a project planning, monitoring and evaluation approach that helps build the bridge between ‘outputs’ (knowledge products) and ‘outcomes’ (changes in behaviour). 

Generally, our thinking about research for development gets stuck at the question of how to get our knowledge products in use. Outcome mapping helps span the divide by focusing on the behaviours of boundary partners and thinking through ways in which we can work with those partners more effectively to achieve our development goals. 

  • The application of this methodology will help us to:
  • Clarify intended interventions and desired outcomes
  • Assess contributions to social change
  • Bring partners and stakeholders into PME&L processes 
  • Foster organizational learning  
  • Strengthen partnerships and alliances 
  • Integrate M&E into projects or programs from the planning stage
  • Balance M&E for accountability with M&E for learning 
  • Provide tools and vocabulary for understanding the complexity of social change

This exercise is of critical importance to CGIAR Centers given the move to a performance-based funding system linked to delivery of development objectives.

Key words: project planning, monitoring, evaluation, outcome mapping, development indicators, stakeholders