My name is Hugo Lamers and I am working for Bioversity International. For Bioversity I am working on a project that strives to preserve the diversity of tropical fruit trees in the field within the local community. This project is implemented in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The coming 10 minutes I will explain you more about the approach that we developed, named the Community Biodiversity Management Approach.
I will first discuss the importance and general benefits of tropical fruit tree diversity. Secondly I will discuss where diversity is found and explain the focus of our project. I will shortly explain why on-farm or in-situ conservation is necessary and introduce the Community Biodiversity Management approach as a tool to harness the benefits from agro-biodiversity in a sustainable and effective way. I will try to showcase the merits and challenges of the CBM approach at the hand of our experiences from the Western Ghats in India and conclude with the major lessons learned.
Fruit trees play a key role in forests providing forage for wildlife, but are also one of the most important perennial crop for farmers. We look at fruit tree diversity on three levels on genetic level, often expressed in the wide range of distinct varieties within a species, species level and eco-system level. When we try to study the benefits of fruit trees we can distinguish three type of benefits. Major benefit of diversity is its function as a global public good; it is the fundamental source for new plant species and varieties to tackle the problems and needs of the future. Besides tropical fruit tree diversity does play an important role on a smaller landscape level through the provision of so-called eco-system services such as improved pollination or stabilizing the level of pests & diseases. This we can call local public goods. Finally fruit tree diversity functions as a private good that provides income, food & nutritional diversity and non-food items and helps farm households to manage economic and agronomic risks to increase the resilience of farming communities to cope with external shocks.
So, where is tropical fruit tree diversity found? The diversity of fruit trees is found in a wide range of agro-ecosystems ranging from natural forests to home gardens and commercial orchards. For example in India more then 1.000 mango varieties are found predominantly in commercial orchards. In our project we focus on on-farm conservation and in-situ conservation. On-farm conservation is best described as the conservation of plants through its use by farming communities and in-situ conservation means the conservation of species and varieties within their original or natural habitat. Ex-situ means the conservation of diversity outside its original habitat such as in a field genebank. The case study I present today is on the intersection between in-situ and on-farm where farmers maintain fruit trees in orchards and home gardens but also still collect fruits from the forest.
A valid question to answer is why we should conserve plant genetic resources on-farm or in its natural habitat? Is ex-situ conservation in gene banks not much easier and effective? There are three main reasons why to include an on-farm/in-situ approach and one additional reason specific for fruit trees. First, without on-farm or in-situ you will gradually loose the global public good for the long future, as only in nature and on-farms the evolutionary process that creates new diversity will be secured. Secondly, you will also gradually loose the vital functions fruit trees play in eco-systems and related services such as pollination or as forage crop. Thirdly, without an on-farm and in-situ strategy you will loose the knowledge that is associated with the species and varieties about its uses, values and characteristics. Although genebanks try to document these, in practice this data is very basic, often incomplete and very fast outdated. Changing consumer preferences and climate conditions requires constant updates of this knowledge which is only achieved through an on-farm/in-situ approach. Regarding fruit trees there is one more aspect, as fruit tree seeds are so-called recalcitrant, which means that their seeds loose germinations power within several weeks in a genebank cold storage. Furthermore, as field genebanks require maintenance and always lack space, is it not easier to keep the trees in the field and bring the genebank to the farm?
When one want to explore an on-farm or in-situ conservation approach there are a few key questions to answer. What are the benefits of tropical fruit trees for rural communities? Why do people maintain diversity? Who/what are the driving forces or threats? How is diversity conserved on-farm or in-situ? And, as the level of diversity in general is still in decline, how to strengthen and support these practices to make them effective and sustainable? So key question is how to intervene. For this we have developed the Community Biodiversity Management approach.
The community biodiversity management approach strives to achieve and link three key elements or outputs; namely agricultural & natural biodiversity, social & institutional empowerment and livelihood benefits & income. These are the three pillars that form the basis of a CBM approach. Any sustainable and effective on-farm/in-situ approach should address these three outputs or elements at the same time. These outputs can be achieved through certain tools. Social or individual & institutional empowerment will be achieved through governance, rules & regulations or recognition. Agricultural & natural biodiversity is preserved through the knowledge, skills and values connected to the various species and varieties. Livelihood benefits & income are achieved through the formulation of farm strategies and activities. Successful interventions based on these key elements & tools will in the end result in the outcomes poverty reduction, social inclusion and conservation. The community should be the starting point and driving force in a CBM approach. So the process is formulated in one nice sentence that our interventions & activities should enable communities to make self-directed decisions regarding the management and use of their natural resources, which will lead towards livelihood benefits & income.
So, in conclusion CBM is a process-led approach that strives to consolidate local institutions’ and farmers’ role. Based on this theoretical framework we have formulated 9 steps to guide all activities from site selection to value addition. CBM makes use of several participatory methods & tools like the Four Cell Analysis to assess the status of diversity, Fruit catalogue to document diversity, Diversity Fairs to create awareness or Rapid Market Appraisal to identify added value activities. As this is all still very theoretical this leaves us with just one question, how is it done in the field?
In our project we have assessed the local diversity and practices through participatory methods in 3 sites in the Western Ghats; in Salkani, Kuliveedu and Kumta. This assessment showed that the communities had several practices in place that maintain diversity. But we also found that many of these practices are eroded and diversity is under threat.
The three villages are located in a hilly landscape with very small hamlets surrounded by forests with traditional rain-fed rice cultivation. Main cash crop grown is areca nut often intercropped with pepper or vanilla. Besides many household have mango trees in their home gardens and especially the poorer households depend for a large share of their income on the collection of 3 type of fruits from the forest; upage, kokum and pickle mango (here variety Midiraje appe). By telling 4 short stories I wanted to show how the CBM approach was implemented in practice.
For instance: 1. The participatory diversity assessment implemented as part of the CBM activities identified several superior pickle mango varieties in the forests and a white type of kokum that is very rare. Only 22 trees could be located. Through the establishment of nurseries, the exploration of new grafting and pruning techniques with some farm leaders, these semi-wild species are now introduced in several home gardens. The farmer & diversity fair held in Sept 2012 showed demand for these saplings among villagers is very high. This showcases how we conserved agricultural biodiversity through the knowledge, skills and values connected to unique native fruit species. CBM uses participatory methods to identify and document native diversity using the Four Cell Analysis, Diversity Fairs and the development of a Fruit Catalogue, in which farmers themselves collect data of all species and varieties found in the village by taking pictures and describing its uses.
3. CBM approach builds further upon existing practices. During baseline data collection and when identifying and documenting so-called Good Practices of Diversity Management and Use we learned that few farmers provide grafting services to other farmers when they are in need for new saplings. These grafting experts have a wealth of knowledge about the local tree diversity. They collect the scions from wide range of superior trees in the forest or home gardens, but those trees are not protected. We have asked the grafters to document and mark those source trees to prevent elite material to be cut down. Participatory methods that are part of CBM included the identification and documentation of Good Practices of Diversity Management and Use and the identification and documentation of Custodian Farmers.
1. One of the three key outputs to achieve of CBM is social and institutional empowerment through improved governance, recognition and rules & regulations. In our project site communities traditionally recognized ‘bettalands’ next to the government owned buffer zones and protected areas. Betta lands are forest lands on hilltops close to the village where specific families have age old harvesting rights, however only for home consumption. Furthermore, communities recognize several sacred and auspicious areas based on old Hindu traditions where no harvesting is allowed. However, high population pressure, eroding village institutions and lack of ownership and enforcement resulted in over-harvesting and degradation of the bettalands and forests, especially after the pharmaceutical industry found out that Upage fruit rinds contain an active ingredient for weight loss products. With help from local NGO Lifetrust and the College of Forestry many villages established village forest committees to create awareness about sustainable harvesting and re-establish rules & regulations regarding the management of bettalands, bufferzones and sacred areas. In 2012 the government for the first time auctioned the harvesting rights in bufferzones directly through the village forest committees. The CBM methodology helped to recognize the local institutions using CLIP methodology and formulating Community Action Plans to strengthen them to take up the governance of local biodiversity. Lifetrust together with the Village Forest Committees are now advocating a change in regulations regarding the bettalands; to allow sales from these degraded forest areas for income generation but combined with stricter environmental rules about sustainable harvesting at bettalands, maintaining minimum tree cover and establishing regeneration zones in traditionally sacred areas or auspicious trees and groves. This does not mean any change from current existing practices as most families informally sold fruits collected from bettalands to traders, who mostly paid very little for the dried fruits. The change is that through improved governance and enforced rules & regulations through the village forest committees the forest dwellers will receive a higher share from the market value of the fruits and gained ownership & recognition for their roles in the protection of their natural resources.
4. The economic most important crops collected from the forest are Upage, kokum and pickle mango. Mango pickle is a local delicacy that all households in India use as side dish for their daily meals. Karnataka is known for its specific aromatic pickle mango diversity, named appe midi, of which many different varieties are found in forest and home gardens. One women leader was known for making very delicious mango pickle from the specific variety ‘Malanji’ based on secret recipe. Now this women group launched their own pickle brand based on this variety and recipe. Besides one local entrepreneur already discovered great interest among ayurvedic practitioners for kokum (Garcinia indica) based products, like jam made from the fruit rinds and soap from the oil in the seeds. Especially the very rare white kokum type, he noticed fetches high interest from ayurvedic practitioners. He now has trained several women groups how to grow the species in their home gardens and make jam from this white kokum type which they can sell through him or directly to the market. CBM methods like Participatory Market Assessment and the formation of self-help groups helped to identify those two products as key products based on native diversity with good market potential that can generate income for community members.
Although several important achievement have been realized already, the communities will need further guidance to improve the scale of production for their products. Additional support is required to fortify and solidify the conservation effort made by grafting experts and strengthen their network, create recognition for their skills and knowledge and create awareness among village members about the benefits and conservation rules and regulations.
This was one example of a Community-based Biodiversity Management approach in three communities in Sirsi located on the west coast of India; this to establish and strengthen local on-farm conservation strategies. The CBM approach and similar activities have been piloted with 33 other villages in 22 sites in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Stories from these efforts are documented in flyers describing several good practices in the management and use of native fruit diversity. These range from propagation practices, farm practices, marketing practices and informal and formal institutional settings that support the local seed system.
CBM should not be implemented everywhere, works best in diversity hotspots with least opportunity costs & high local interest in native species & varieties. CBM is challenging & requires shift in paradigm - NARS (ex-situ) and custodian farmers should work together. CBM is long-term effort – need sentinel sites to monitor an evaluate CBM approach and impact. The only holistic approach to date to strengthen and improve on-farm and in-situ conservation systems. If implemented successfully, it conserves biodiversity while creating multiple benefits such as increased incomes , lower income & harvest risks , improved nutrition , improved local institutions , gender equality , recognition of custodianship and resilient communities.
The work presented was implemented and guided with the help of Dr. Vasudeva from the college of Forestry in Sirsi, Mr. Narasimha Hegde from the NGO Lifetrust and Dr. Gajanana from IIHR in Bangalore.
Biodiversity and Development COP11
11 October 2012
Hugo Lamers & Bhuwon Sthapit
The benefits of native Garcinia and
Mangifera species in South and South
showcasing integrated approach for on-farm (in situ)
conservation and use in practice
• Importance and benefits of tropical fruit tree diversity
• Where is diversity found; focus of the project
• On-farm/in-situ conservation; why and how?
• CBM approach, methods and tools
• Garcinia & Mangifera in Western Ghats India
• Take home message
Three type of benefits from TFT
• Fundamental source for new seedling material
through open pollination and human & natural
• Eco-system services (pollination, lower pest &
• Risk management (economic, agronomic resilience)
• Source of food items (nutritional diversity)
• Source of non-food items
• Source of income
1. Natural forest systems-
2. Buffer zones in
4. Home gardens
6. Commercial orchards
7. Field gene banks
Context: Diverse production systems
conserving tree genetic resources!
Tropical Fruit Tree
Why on-farm/in-situ conservation of
• Allows the evolutionary process to create new
diversity through geneflow and human and natural
• Enables interaction with other species and vital
functions within agro-ecosystems (provision of eco-
system services like pollination)
• Conserves and updates the cultural and traditional
knowledge that is associated with the species or
varieties about its uses, values and characteristics
• Recognizes farmers’ rights - farmers as breeders
• Fruit tree species are recalcitrant – seeds loose
germination power in cold ex-situ storage – field gene
banks always lack space
On-farm/in-situ conservation through
• What/which diversity is still there?
• Why do people maintain diversity/what are the
benefits of TFT for rural communities?
• Who/what are the driving forces or threats?
• How is TFT diversity conserved on-farm/in-
• How to strengthen and support these
practices?How to intervene?
Community Biodiversity Management
key outputs, tools, process & outcomes
Community Biodiversity Management
• Consolidating local institutions’ and farmers’ roles
• 9 steps from site selection to value addition
Type of Activities:
• Documenting diversity
• Creating awareness
• Set-up local nurseries
• Capacity building
• Added value activities
Methods & tools:
• Four Cell Analysis
• Fruit Catalogue/CBR
• Diversity fair
• Community seed bank
• Participatory variety
• Identify good practices
• Identify custodian
• Diversity Fund
• Rapid Market Appraisal
Ok, but how is it done in the
• Salkani Cluster
• Kuliveedu Cluster
• Kumta Cluster
Uttara Kannada dist
Western Ghats in India one of 34
hotspots of biodiversity
Mosaic of landscapes: with patches of agricultural land and forests
1. Agricultural biodiversity:
Diversity assessment &
introduction of wild species in
2. Network of grafting
experts to conserve the
knowledge along unique fruit
3. Social & Institutional
empowerment: Village forest
committees, betta-land regulations
and the right of harvesting
4. Livelihood benefits & income:
Product innovation & sales of traditional
mango pickle and kokum jam by local
Intermediate outcomes & impact 2012
1. Diversity and related knowledge assessed and documented; 48 M. indica
(mango) varieties, 3 Garcinia species, 11 types taken up for promotion incl.
8 pickle mango, 2 table mango and 1 Garcinia species (white kokum).
2. Conservation action identified and put in place through grafting experts
3. Village forest committees obtained for first time the right to join tender and
won right of harvesting in buffer zone forest in 2012
4. High demand for mango appe midi saplings by local farming households, just
as white type of G. indica
4. Women self help groups directly involved in the development and launch of
new products like jam, pickle, candles, soap & instant powder for kokum
Way forward and take home message
• Not everywhere - works best in diversity hotspots
• CBM is challenging & requires shift in paradigm
• CBM is long-term effort – need more research in
• The only holistic & community-based approach to date
• If implemented successfully, it conserves biodiversity
while creating multiple benefits such as increased
incomes, lower income & harvest risks, enhance eco-
system services, improved nutrition, strengthen local
institutions, gender equality, recognition of
custodianship and resilient communities
Socio-economics & marketing
With many thanks for:
Dr. Vasudeva (College of Forestry, Sirsi)
Mr. Narasimha Hegde (Lifetrust, Sirsi
Dr. Gajanana (IIHR, Bangalore)