Farmer cultivating 3-4 species together in high mountain himalays
Intra-specific diversity of peralmillet in dryland of India
Diverse portfolio of unique and rare fruits in Sarawak Maaysia, Indonesia and Thailand
Someone who is responsible for looking after something valuable or important…
There are four types of custodian farmers and their sphere may change with access to more information and knowledge and should be intergal part of community based management
In the context of on-farm conservation, custodian farmers play four key roles to transfer knowledge and materials to next generations.
Source of motivation are diverse and they could be multiple.
Brs 2-concept and practice of custodian farmers-11-2-13 f
Custodian Farmers of
Putting Theory into Practice: What can we
learn from custodian farmers of
agricultural biodiversity in situ ?
Bhuwon Sthapit, Hugo Lamers & Ramanatha Rao
Inter and intra specific diversity of
Mangifera sp., Nephelium sp., and
Unique and rare fruit diversity!
Source: Salma Idris, Malaysia
Diversity in orchards and home
gardens of custodian farmers
Few basic questions?
• Why making so much fuss about custodian
• What we really mean by custodian farmers?
• How we can identify them?
• What are the characteristics of such custodian
• What are current roles and functions of such
• Are there different types of custodian farmers?
• What role they can play for the national PGR
• Why this workshop? Why this theme is important
global consultation issue?
Why is it important to identify
and define custodian farmers?
• Little research done on effective methods
how to strengthen on-farm conservation or
• Seems effective and efficient approach for
on-farm conservation interventions
• These farmers play a key role:
– Linking traditional knowledge to
– Linking formal sector to informal seed
What we really mean by
How can we identify
Who are Custodian Farmers?
Custodian farmers are those conserver
farmers who actively maintain, adapt
and disseminate agricultural
biodiversity over time and space,
including the culture and institutions in
which it is embedded, and the
knowledge needed for its use and
WHAT are the Key Characteristics
of Custodian Farmers?
1. Driven by conservation ideology
2. Knowledge holder of traits
3. Community recognition
4. Highly motivated and self-directed
5. Consistent and unshaken
6. Willing to share knowledge and
WHAT are the Essential Roles and
Functions of Custodian Farmers?
Note: Genetic resources are deeply
embedded in knowledge and practices of
farmer’s livelihood and food culture
What are the Key Roles of
Richness of species/varieties/ traits
Guardian of at least 1 unique/rare/
special/difficult to propagate
Rich ecological knowledge of
diversity, heritability and selection
Selection of specific crop, varieties
and trait adapted to local conditions;
High frequency of exchange of
seed and associated knowledge
Community members frequently cite
source of seed from a particular node
Continuity Over time ensure land use system
that harbor portfolio of species and
Sets of traits maintained when old
varieties are replaced
Transfer of knowledge and practice to
Ensure alternative options that under
Sources of Motivation
• personal (driven by passion or sensitivity
regarding the need for conserving diversity to
future generations; hobby)
• social (driven by the desire to conserve
particularly relevant crops for festivity and food
• economic (driven by the need for safeguarding
diversity for economic options of the HH)
• agro-ecology (driven by the natural assets)
• cultural (driven by the awareness regarding the
intimate link between genetic and cultural
Geographic Locations of Case
Studies of Custodian Farmers
Result: Who Maintains Diversity and How?
Custodian farmers of Malihabad site
Name of the farmer
Mr Nawab Hasan
Mr Parmeshwar Sharma
Mr Chhote Lal Kashyap
Mr Jamuna Prasad
Mr Tulsi Ram
Mr Mohan Lal
Mr Ram Asre
Mr Ramesh Chandra
Mr Ram Chandra
Number of varieties
(Source: Rajan et al 2012, TFT Project)
Policy support of custodian
• How could we consolidate roles of CF
as conserver, dynamic innovator and
promoter of diversity?
• Could such custodian farmers be
recognized as community gene bank
and be publicly supported?
• How could society continue to motivate
such farmers, generation after
• Could custodian farmers contribute to a
national conservation strategy?
• How policy could support for their roles in
use and conservation?
So, the Purpose
1. to develop deeper understanding of the
roles and functions of custodian farmers in
conservation, use and dissemination of
2. to highlight their contribution to the
national plant genetic resources system
and overall sustainable agriculture
3. to raise their visibility and recognition in
the field of genetic resources
• Discuss and refine the concept and
methodology to identify custodian farmers.
• Consolidate the role of custodian farmers
for conservation and availability of/access to
ABD through recognition, visibility and
creating linkages (policy support).
• Formulate an action plan to support
custodian farmers and recognize their
contributions to the society.
Expected Outputs of the
• A draft strategy that contribute to work
plans of ICAR-Bioversity International and
other countries’ genebanks as a strategy
for on-farm conservation.
• Methodology for identification and
• Publication of a book or peer reviewed
paper - Custodian farmers of tropical fruit
Format of Workshop Methodology
A dynamic mix of
• Brief self introduction of custodian farmers;
• Short talks on a conceptual framework for
• Country case studies, and experiences from
• Expert opinions;
• Sharing of overview results from profile
• Sharing outcome of questionnaire surveys to set
round-table discussions and interactive focus
group workshops agenda;
• Action plans and publication