Reinforcing the resilience of poor rural communities in the face of food insecurity, poverty and climate change through on-farm conservation of local agrobiodiversity (2011 - 2015)

Climate Change Resilience and Traditional Crops

Phases III and IV of the IFAD NUS project aim to enhance the resilience of rural communities to climate change by strengthening the conservation and use of local agricultural biodiversity. The project is investigating the role of agricultural biodiversity and neglected and underutilized species in climate change adaptation and exploring means to leverage their contribution to enhance food security, nutrition, and income-generation in face of weather challenges. The primary target group and beneficiaries of the project are poor farmers, women’s groups and other users who rely on local crops for their food security, income and other livelihood benefits.

is global coordinator of the project, which is being implemented in Nepal, India, and Bolivia under the coordination of Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), and Fundación Promoción e Investigación de Productos Andinos (PROINPA). This work fits within the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

A millet food fair held in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh. Photo Credit Stefano Padulosi, Bioversity International


  • Develop and test new methods and tools in close partnership with farmers and value chain actors aimed at enhancing their capacities to sustainably conserve traditional crops and associated knowledge at the farm level
  • Develop and test highly participatory, community-based approaches, methods and tools for documenting local agrobiodiversity and assessing the values, threats and competitiveness of crops relevant to the rural poor, within a climate change context
  • Explore ways of integrating the monitoring of diversity on-farm, along with use-enhancement goals, through inter-disciplinary and multi-sector approaches.
  • Promote a more balanced complementary conservation agenda in national programmes, based on the need to combat genetic erosion and to meet the needs of agrobiodiversity users
  • Explore relevant policy options and collaborative frameworks, at national and international levels, aimed at strengthening pro-poor on-farm conservation
  • Provide useful findings to guide further research related to climate change and its impact on species and varieties deployed in local production systems.
  • Enhance capacities of stakeholders in documenting, monitoring, conserving and using local agrobiodiversity and associated knowledge on farm

The Project will create mechanisms for capturing and sharing knowledge at local, national and international levels. In collaboration with its partners, it will ensure an explicit communication protocol to allow systematic exchange of information and knowledge among all partners involved across the three target countries. An interactive web site will be created through which the voice of communities partnering in the project will be heard through images, messages and videos that will document their views regarding traditional crops, on farm conservation and climate change.

Major Activities

The main action areas for the project concerned:

  • Performing farmer surveys to assess farmer perceptions of climate change and the role of traditional crops and management practices for adaptation
  • Developing networks of custodian farmers and strengthening links between ex situ and in situ conservation to foster development of a robust, dynamic and adaptable management system for plant genetic resources
  • Strengthening documentation and monitoring of agricultural biodiversity through participatory community-driven methodologies
  • Promoting use of hardy local crops, continuing activities to promote value chains of minor millets and andean grains initiated in phases I and II and starting work to promote winter vegetables in Nepal
  • Capacity building to develop supportive policies and greater awareness for the role of traditional agricultural biodiversity and underutilized species in climate change adaptation