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2011  1102ANNUALREPORT  Sustainable agriculture for food and nutrition security
CONTENTS                                                                       FOREWORD                                   ...
FOREWORDOUR OFFICES AROUND THE WORLD                                                                                      ...
SUSTAINABILITYSUSTAINABILITY                                                                                           Lan...
SUSTAINABILITY                                                 of varieties grown and the area planted                    ...
NUTRITIONNUTRITION                                                                                                   Grand...
NUTRITIONBiodiversit y for                                 2011-2021Food and Nutrition                                Nutr...
LIVELIHOODSLIVELIHOODS                                                                                            Traditio...
LIVELIHOODS                                                                                                               ...
CONSERVATIONCONSERVATION                                                                                           Guatema...
CONSERVATION                                               CGIAR has played an important role                           Th...
TOOLS  CAPACITY BUILDING highlightsBioversity International’s work results          2ND GLOBAL                            ...
TOOLS  CAPACITY BUILDING highlightsplant traits. For example, when researchingthe trait ‘height’ of cassava, the tool     ...
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report
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Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report


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Throughout the Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report, you will find examples of our work to improve sustainability, nutrition, livelihoods and conservation. You will also find information about our Board of Trustees, supporters and 2011 publications.

The report divides our research into four themes — sustainability, nutrition, livelihoods and conservation — highlighting just some of the different ways that the use of agricultural biodiversity can improve nutrition, improve smallholders’ livelihoods and enhance agricultural sustainability.

Read more about Bioversity International’s research-for-development portfolio and strategic priorities.

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Bioversity International 2011 Annual Report

  1. 1. 2011 1102ANNUALREPORT Sustainable agriculture for food and nutrition security
  2. 2. CONTENTS FOREWORD 1 SUSTAINABILITY Landscapes for People, Food Nature 3 Traditional Diversity to Reduce Pest and Disease Damage 4 Sustaining Resources in African Forests 4 NUTRITION Grand Challenges Explorations 7 Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition 8 2011-2021 Nutrition Strategy Launched 8 LIVELIHOODS Traditional Crops Back to Market 11 A Taste of Success for Cocoa 12 Improving Livelihoods on Farm 13 CONSERVATION Guatemalan Atlas of Crop Wild Relatives 15 Marking 10 years of the International Treaty 16 Slash-and-burn Effects on Diversity 16 TOOLS CAPACITY BUILDING 18 PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS 22 FINANCE REPORT 2011 24 PARTNERSHIPS FOR CHANGE 26 SUPPORTERS 28 BOARD OF TRUSTEES 30 SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES 32 SELECTED PUBLICATIONS 36 THE YEAR AHEAD 37Download this report at:
  3. 3. FOREWORDOUR OFFICES AROUND THE WORLD T his past year represented a turning point for agricultural biodiversity, with increasing recognition of its value to help provide a food secure future in a sustainable way.• Major programme and regional offices Following the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010, we celebrated the launch• Other regional offices of the UN Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2021). This year also saw the initiation of the preparation for the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, a key step in laying the foundation for the next set of Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, CGIAR, a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future, completed its reform process in 2011 and formulated 15 CGIAR Research Programs to implement its Strategy and Results Framework. Our organization played an active role in the formulation of nine programmes and contributed its expertise and long experience to ensure that the role of agricultural biodiversity in achieving the CGIAR system-level outcomes was appropriately reflected in these new research programs. These key influencing events in 2011, along with the increasing realization worldwide Heverlee, Belgium that past models of agricultural intensification are not sustainable, have prompted Tashkent, Uzbekistan us to revisit our own mission and develop a more sharply focused strategy that Montpellier, France Beijing, China will guide us during the decade to come. Working with our partners and donors, Bioversity HQ, Rome, Italy we have developed a new set of strategic priorities and a new research agenda to help achieve our vision of a world in which smallholder farming communities New Delhi, India in developing countries are thriving and sustainable. As a result, we also revisited Los Baños, Philippines our structure and created five distinct and innovative research programmes. These Cotonou, Benin Turrialba, Costa Rica ensure that Bioversity International is an excellent investment and world-class Kampala, Uganda Serdang, Malaysia partner for supporters and users of our knowledge and research. Cali, Colombia Yaounde, Cameroon Nairobi, Kenya Bujumbura, Burundi While our strategy development was in progress, we continued to make important research strides in using and conserving agricultural biodiversity for livelihoods, sustainability and nutrition. Working with smallholder farmers and partners, our scientists provide novel research ideas and practical solutions. Throughout the pages of this report, you will find examples of Bioversity International’s work with partners and stakeholders from Africa to Asia to the Americas. As we reflect on the year and what lies ahead, it is clear that biodiversity is a critical entry point to a host of issues that need solutions. Agricultural biodiversity has the potential to benefit millions and complement other approaches to agriculture. It can play a central role in meeting global challenges and transform agricultural systems, but it has too often and for too long been neglected by research and development agendas. This must change, as agricultural biodiversity is a powerful resource to help our world. We encourage you to read this report and to share it widely. With your help and engagement, we can make a lasting impact in research to achieve better nutrition, improve smallholders’ livelihoods and enhance agricultural sustainability while conserving the plant genetic diversity upon which they depend. Thank you for your continued support of our efforts. Emile Frison Director General Paul Zuckerman Board Chair 1
  4. 4. SUSTAINABILITYSUSTAINABILITY Landscapes forA new approach is required to reduce, or reverse, the negative impacts of our food production systemson the environment, which are contributing to land degradation, pollution and the loss of biodiversity People, Food Natureand ecosystem services on which we all depend. “A landscape is a human construct. It is not nature as it was handed to usMany of the 2 billion smallholders who live in developing countries are adversely affected by climate but the result of interaction betweenchange—drought, erratic weather and increased outbreaks of crop pests and diseases. Through people and nature. We have worked onour work with these farmers, research partners and conservation agencies, Bioversity International many individual crops, looking at howcontributes to global understanding about the use and conservation of agricultural biodiversity. This they contribute traits and resilience toresource can increase the productivity, resilience and sustainability of small-scale food production agriculture, but increasingly we see that a lot of the value comes when thesesystems and has potential for development. elements of biodiversity are inserted into a landscape,” says Bioversity InternationalHighlights from 2011 include a global effort to support scaled-up approaches to sustainability, Senior Scientist Pablo Eyzaguirre.research on using agricultural biodiversity to minimize pest and disease damage, and work with local Finding solutions that simultaneouslycommunities in the forests of Mozambique. meet the challenges of biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, food security and poverty reduction is no easy task. A clear example is trying to find synergies between conservation and food production needs. A landscape approach is one that tries to address these different types of demands at the same time. Smallholder farmers, policymakers, food companies, conservation agencies and grassroots organizations are already adopting innovative integrated approaches, although on a small scale. So far these have received little recognition from policymakers or investors, but a 3-year multi-stakeholder collaboration to scale up sustainable rural development, launched in 2011, hopes to change this. The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative will support the scaling up of sustainable landscape management approaches in over 60 biodiversity hotspots. Partners representing over 120 organizations, including policymakers, donors, NGOs, farmers, research centres and conservation agencies, are tasked with gathering evidence and making this knowledge widely accessible to policymakers. Bioversity International is a co-organizer of this initiative led by Ecoagriculture Partners. 3 Multidisciplinary teams have already started work to synthesize current evidence as part of the partnership’s global review: a set of key questions whose answers are critical for setting the standards for agriculture in the 21st century. For example, what is the contribution
  5. 5. SUSTAINABILITY of varieties grown and the area planted species that are important to them, to see with each variety. These two crops are if the use of the trees is placing them under significant to Ugandan farmers—banana threat and if sustainable alternatives areof ecologically intensifying agricultural and the common bean are the most to food and ecosystem service important sources of carbohydrates inproduction? Can we produce more food Uganda, with more than 7 million people About 40,000 people live in the reservewith less, by focusing on intensifying depending on them for daily meals. using trees for many purposes: fuelecological processes rather than relying wood for home cooking and charcoallargely on external inputs, such as “The project showed that using diversity can production for sale, food, medicine, timberchemicals and excessive water use? help minimize risk. For example, farmers in for construction and sale, material forCan we make agricultural systems Uganda who grow diverse sets of varieties carving cultural objects, fishing rods, andmultifunctional—producing both food and of bananas and common beans lose less talismans. People here live in poverty—ecosystem services? of their harvest when the incidence of the on average they earn about US$ 35 per pest or disease is high. But, having enough year—and depend on the trees for food diversity in a farmers production system is and income, especially at times of foodTraditional Diversity not enough on its own. Success depends on farmers and the farming community having the knowledge and leadership shortage when they eat the fruit and edible leaves. Trees are also a source of honey, the sale of which is the main source of incometo Reduce Pest and capacity to evaluate the benefits that using this diversity gives to them. This, in turn, for many people. Yet the practices that people use, for example, cutting trees forDisease Damage means that local, national and international honey collection, are placing the resources agencies take an active role in strengthening that they need under threat.Pests and diseases cause an estimated local institutions to enable farmers to take a greater role in the management of their The first year’s fieldwork consisted of27% worldwide loss to annual harvests, genetic resources,” says Devra Jarvis, conducting interviews in communitiesa loss that can have devastating impacts Senior Scientist at Bioversity International. in the reserve to understand people’son income and food for poor smallholder dependence on and their use of forestfarming households. resources.One resource available to smallholderfarmers to minimize the risk of pest anddisease damage is the use of different Sustaining Resources “The second year of the project saw more focus on ecological studies following up on the previous year’s surveys of how peoplevarieties of a crop, planted together. Fundedby the Global Environment Facility (GEF), in African Forests used the forests. We saw the impacts of honey hunting and illegal logging, anda 3-year Bioversity International project The Niassa National Reserve extends over that current practices are China, Ecuador, Morocco and Uganda 42,000 km2 along the Mozambique border The next step will focus on honey hunting,shows that growing a mix of varieties of with Tanzania, and includes one of the working with people in the communities toa crop can decrease farmers’ chances least disturbed areas of Africa’s deciduous identify and test more sustainable collectionof losing entire harvests. This is because Miombo woodlands. It was established methods,” says Judy Loo, Senior Scientistdifferent varieties offer different resistance to protect wildlife and also includes at Bioversity International.levels to outbreaks, rather than relying on populations of a number of the world’sa few high-yielding yet more genetically threatened tree species. 5 The final stage of the project will be to workuniform modern varieties. It is also a with the people living in the reserve to helpsustainable and affordable alternative to A Bioversity International project, them develop more sustainable practices,expensive chemical inputs. Sustaining forest resources for people to produce recommendations for reserve and the environment in the Niassa managers that will help them balance theTwo of the six crops studied in the global National Reserve in Mozambique is need for wildlife habitat conservation withproject, banana and the common bean, studying the relationship between the those of the local people, and to share thiswere evaluated in terms of the number people living in the reserve and the tree model widely.
  6. 6. NUTRITIONNUTRITION Grand ChallengesHunger is a worldwide problem, which, together with nutrient deficiencies known as hidden hunger, Explorationsundermines the growth, development, health and productivity of over 2 billion people. Our agriculturalsystems collectively produce enough staple food for everyone at the moment, in aggregate, but The Grand Challenges Explorations is an initiative funded by the Bill Melindaaccess to nutritious food remains a challenge for many. The predicted world population increase to Gates Foundation to enable researchers9 billion by 2050 is set to increase demand on these systems which are already being pushed to the worldwide to test unorthodox ideas thatboundaries of sustainability and placing our ecosystems under extreme pressure. address persistent global health and development challenges.Bioversity International’s Nutrition Strategy was launched in 2011 to further understand how using Bioversity International, in collaborationagricultural biodiversity within smallholder farming systems can contribute to food security and with Save the Children UK, is undertakingnutrition. During the year, Bioversity International started two nutrition initiatives to gather robust an innovative global health projectevidence of the value of agricultural biodiversity for nutrition and health and further explore its links through this initiative: ‘The role of wildto livelihoods. and underutilized foods in daily costs of diets in Baringo, Kenya’. This project focuses on reaching “a clearer understanding of the role of wild and underutilized foods in helping to deliver a nutritionally adequate diet—at the same time reducing its cost. This will enable researchers and policymakers to develop accessible and local food-based solutions to malnutrition in mothers and 6 to 24-month-old children,” says Federico Mattei, Research Support Officer, Nutrition and Marketing Diversity Programme, who will be involved in carrying out the research with local partners. The use of a Cost of Diet tool, which calculates the minimum amount of money a household will have to spend to meet their full nutritional requirements using locally available foods, means “we will be able to model the impact these foods could have on the affordability of a nutritious diet,” explains Alex Rees, Head of Hunger Reduction, Save the Children UK. As a part of this project, diets with and without foods from wild species and Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS), will be modelled to determine the nutritional and cost benefits of these foods to assist in the design of programme interventions aimed at improving diet quality and contributing 6 7 to a reduction in child stunting. NUS are plant and animal species that are used traditionally for food, fibre, fodder, oil or medicinal properties, but have not yet been adopted by large-scale agriculture.
  7. 7. NUTRITIONBiodiversit y for 2011-2021Food and Nutrition Nutrition StrategyIn 2011, a new 5-year global project,‘Biodiversity for food and nutrition’ was Launchedsuccessfully approved to start in 2012. “Good nutrition must be one of the major fats and sugars. Some of these changes goals of agriculture and production systems, are adversely affecting people’s health andFunded by the Global Environment Facility requiring a combination of agricultural, nutrition, as well as the environment, and(GEF), the US$ 35-million project will health, fortification and supplementation are not sustainable in the long term.provide evidence of the nutritional value strategies. While promoting householdof agricultural biodiversity and its role in production, Bioversity International is The strategy has four objectives that fallpromoting healthy diets and strengthening concentrating its efforts to understand into two broader categories: research andlivelihoods in the four countries leading the and promote access to and availability of evidence, and development and policy.project: Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey. nutritious and diverse foods,” says BruceBioversity International is coordinating the Cogill, Programme Leader, Nutrition and Objective 1: To strengthen the empiricalproject with implementation support from Marketing Diversity. evidence of agricultural biodiversity’s rolethe UN Environment Programme (UNEP), for nutrition and health.the Food and Agriculture Organization of This year, Bioversity launched a 10-yearthe UN (FAO) and a significant number of nutrition strategy which promotes the Objective 2: To ensure that the productioninternational partners. use of agricultural biodiversity within food of more nutritious foods through commercial production systems to provide nutritionally- pathways reflects agriculturally biodiverseThe project aims to use this evidence rich food sources that contribute to dietary practices and cultural and consumerto influence policies, development diversity and to better nutrition and health. practices.programmes and markets that support This builds on research of the past few yearsthe conservation and sustainable use of that has focused on the role and impact of Objective 3: To determine best practicesagricultural biodiversity. Part of the project traditional foods on dietary diversity and and delivery systems of agriculturalwill be to develop tools, knowledge and livelihoods. biodiversity in nutrition and healthbest practices to mobilize and mainstream development programmes.the use of nutritionally-rich biodiversity The Nutrition and Marketing Diversityand scale up its use for food and nutrition Programme will build evidence about how Objective 4: To mainstream the role ofin development, value chains and local the benefits derived from growing and using agricultural biodiversity into public healthcommunity initiatives. agriculturally biodiverse foods can benefit and nutrition policy and practice by sharing people’s livelihoods and ecosystems. evidence and providing local solutions.“It is increasingly recognized at an Bioversity International is focusing its workinternational level that there are important on smallholder farming communities—links between biodiversity, food and comprising 70% of the world’s poorest 1.4nutrition, yet research in this area remains billion people—in low and middle income 9fragmented and uncoordinated. Bioversity countries in sub-Saharan Africa, CentralInternational’s involvement in a project of America and South Asia. Within thesethis nature is critical as the world’s foremost countries, like in many other countriesresearch-for-development organization around the world, people’s diets haveworking in the field of mobilizing biodiversity changed, moving away from traditional,for food and nutrition,” says Danny Hunter, local and diverse foods to eating moreBioversity International Project Leader. cereal-based staples and energy-dense
  8. 8. LIVELIHOODSLIVELIHOODS Traditional CropsFor smallholder farmers and rural communities, agricultural biodiversity is a resource within reachthat can help increase income and income stability. Diversified farming systems and sustainable Back to Marketsmall-scale forestry offer opportunities to provide a more regular income and enhanced food security 2011 marks the end of a 10-year researchacross seasons and between years. Within these communities, women play an important but often effort funded by the International Fundunrecognized role in producing, gathering, processing and marketing food. for Agricultural Development (IFAD), to empower poor rural communities inBioversity International is working to make markets accessible to the rural poor by expanding Asia and Latin America by strengtheningthe focus beyond main commodity crops and developing innovative ‘farm to fork’ interventions. their identity, income opportunities and nutritional security through the improvedBioversity International works in partnership with agencies, community groups and the private sector use and marketing of Neglected andto improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Our research in 2011 addressed production, Underutilized Species (NUS). NUS aremarketing technologies and policies needed to ensure the equitable participation of the poor in new traditional crops that are often bettermarkets of diverse products. Here are some highlights. adapted to grow in marginal areas, with little need for irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers, but have fallen outside mainstream agricultural research and development. “Thanks to this project, we now have the evidence that these species are a key asset to support poor farming communities,” says Stefano Padulosi, Senior Scientist at Bioversity International. In India, Bioversity International and partners worked with 200 farming families to revive the cultivation of minor millets. As a result, Indian small millet growers increased their yields by 70% and their income by 30%. Women farmers integrated millets into innovative snack foods, which have reached urban markets and are now consumed in schools. Selling those foods to boost household incomes and the entrepreneurial skills acquired were also key for the empowerment and self- esteem of the women involved. In Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, the cultivation of traditional grains, such as cañihua, amaranth and some neglected varieties of quinoa, was being abandoned because of poor economic competitiveness in markets. The interventions varied from developing new varieties of cañihua to providing prototypes of machines that drastically 11 reduce processing times—from 6 hours to 7 minutes to process 12 kg of quinoa. By improving production, processing and marketing, these crops are now back in the farmers’ fields offering new income opportunities.
  9. 9. LIVELIHOODS Improving Livelihoods on Farm“We have to act at different levels. We smallholder farmers through the diversity of “Our research shows that properly designedhave to conserve these species, create beans cultivated, to the skill of the farmers, interventions for conserving diversity onnetworks and infrastructure and build and to the differences in taste produced farms can benefit both biodiversity and thecapacity so that farmers and communities from different growing conditions. farmers who conserve it,” says Elisabettacan take advantage of cultivating NUS. Gotor, Impact Assessment Specialist atCreating an enabling policy environment, In 2011, Cocoa of Excellence received Bioversity International. Supported byboth at a national and international level, and analyzed 119 samples of cocoa beans the McKnight Foundation, Assessingis necessary to deploy the economic from 22 countries—50 of which were the success of on-farm conservationpotential of these species for the poor. Last selected and processed into chocolate— projects in delivering conservation andbut not least we need champions, people to be evaluated by a jury of professionals livelihood outcomes: identifying bestspreading the message,” added Padulosi. and connoisseurs who then assigned 12 practices and decision support tools is Cocoa of Excellence awards. In addition, a research project that analyses six on-Building on this experience, Bioversity a second jury met during the Salon du farm conservation projects carried outInternational is beginning a new project Chocolat, Paris and gave four awards to by research organizations, NGOs andfunded by IFAD to investigate the use farmers from Malaysia, Costa Rica, Ecuador development agencies in Peru, Ecuadorof NUS in increasing the adaptation and and Cameroon. and Bolivia.resilience of production systems in the faceof climate change. These events provide opportunities to Many projects have been, and continue establish links between cocoa growers and to be, implemented worldwide to supportA taste of success professionals in the chocolate industry. For example, at the Salon du Chocolat, one chocolate manufacturer met with the on-farm conservation of agricultural biodiversity. The challenge of these projects is to identify, design andfor Cocoa country representative of a farmer that had provided a nominated cocoa sample implement interventions that make the conservation of crop diversity compatible resulting in a business link between the with improved livelihoods and well-beingCocoa is a vital source of income for some farmer and the manufacturer. among the farmers who conserve it. The6 million smallholder farmers in West aim is to maintain diversity while alsoAfrica, Latin America and Asia. Compared Cocoa is starting to get more attention in reducing poverty.with coffee, wine or tobacco, cocoa is countries that produce it. In Peru, nationalstill a low-value industrial commodity, competitions are now organized every year “One of the aims of this study is to fill the gapbut demand for fine-flavour, added-value and there are trained specialists in the of systematic evaluation of the success ofcocoa is steadily increasing. sensory evaluation of cocoa beans, liqueurs on-farm conservation projects in producing and chocolates. Brazil is organizing its first outcomes that maintain crop diversity onBioversity International is one of the Chocolate and Cocoa Show in Salvador, farm and at the same time create livelihoodlead organizations behind Cocoa of Bahia, in 2012. benefits for farmers,” says Mauricio Bellon,Excellence, an initiative funded by the Senior Scientist at Bioversity International.Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), “The development of cocoa as a high-value 13via the International Cocoa Organisation crop and commodity has great potential This research is also a very important tool(ICCO), Mars Inc., the World Cocoa for smallholder farmers, particularly in for donors, policymakers and practitionersFoundation and Barry Callebaut. The West Africa, Latin America and Asia,” says who need to have the conceptual andproject aims to link cocoa growers with Stephan Weise, Deputy Director General methodological tools to assess the successchocolate makers and in the process give of Research at Bioversity International. of their projects and the lessons learned,recognition to the contribution made by “We are looking at ways to expand those and hence their investments. possibilities.”
  10. 10. CONSERVATIONCONSERVATION Guatemalan AtlasThe increasing loss of plant genetic resources, including those of crops, their wild relatives, and of Crop Wild Relativestrees, has irreversible global implications. Genetic resources are critical to ensure the ability offuture generations to adapt and enhance agriculture as needed. For almost 40 years, Bioversity The Atlas of Guatemalan Crop Wild Relatives (Atlas Guatemalteco deInternational has been at the forefront of global efforts to collect, conserve and use agricultural Parientes Silvestres de las Plantasbiodiversity. Our new strategy includes two complementary conservation approaches: ex situ Cultivadas) is a new web resource to(conservation of seeds in long‑term storage facilities) and in situ (conservation of plants on farms facilitate the conservation and use of wildand in the wild), with greater emphasis on the less researched area, in situ conservation. plant species that are related to cultivated crops.In 2011, we marked many conservation milestones, including the 10-year anniversary of theInternational Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, a new atlas of crop Crop wild relatives are increasingly important to agriculture because theywild relatives and new research on forest genetic resources. contain beneficial traits needed for breeding improved varieties that can be hardier, more productive, more nutritious, more disease and drought resistant, and better adapted to climate change. Guatemala, in the heart of Mesoamerica, is one of the world’s most important centres of plant domestication and agricultural origin and, consequently, an area with an abundance of crop wild relatives. Launched in 2011, the atlas is the result of nearly a decade of extensive collaboration between Bioversity International and partners. It provides detailed information about 105 species or subspecies of wild Guatemalan plants, chosen for this study because of their economic, cultural and nutritional importance. Through an interactive Google Earth® interface, users can consult maps that show the known distribution and potential range of each plant included in the study, based on climate and the locations where they were collected. Additional maps display areas of high species richness and diversity to assist conservation efforts. The maps draw upon a database of 2,593 records of scientific specimens conserved in numerous national and international institutions. “We are pleased that the Ministry of the Environment of Guatemala has made plans to immediately use the atlas to document 15 the presence of crop wild relatives within their system of protected areas,” says Marleni Ramirez, Regional Director, Bioversity International Americas Office. The atlas, and supporting database, is a resource for those who want to learn
  11. 11. CONSERVATION CGIAR has played an important role The research began in 1996, when 24 throughout the negotiations of the Treaty, half-hectare clearances were created in providing technical input and acting as the forest using three different methods: one of the key resources for accessing eight were clear-felled which means all theabout and promote the conservation and genetic biodiversity. CGIAR genebanks host trees were cut down and left on site withuse of the many unique and often threatened around 50% of the materials currently in the their stumps remaining in the ground; eightcrop wild relatives in Guatemala, including multilateral system of access and benefit were cleared by bulldozers that uprootedplant breeders, conservationists, students sharing, including a wide diversity of local the trees and pushed them to the side;and teachers. and traditional varieties, crop wild relatives, while eight were cleared by slash and burn. as well as neglected and underutilized The researchers then planted seeds andMarking 10 years of crops. These materials are available through seedlings of mahogany, the most valuable the Treaty’s Standard Material Transfer timber species, to see how they would fare. Agreement (SMTA), and more than 8,000 samples are exchanged every week. Slash and burn was best for mahogany,”the International Treaty The Treaty was adopted by the Food and says Snook, “but what was really interesting, when we went back more than a decadeAn international event marked 10 years of Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) later, was to find that more than 100 treethe International Treaty on Plant Genetic Conference in November 2001 and came species had regenerated in the plots—Resources for Food and Agriculture, a into force in 2004. many of them commercially valuable.”powerful legal instrument that defines the Slash-and-burnlegal status and conditions for pooling, The study revealed clear differencesexchanging and conserving plant genetic between treatments. In clear-felled plots,resources for food and agriculture between valuable hardwoods occupied less than 30% of the plots, while on plots cleared bycountries. Without it, the costs andnegotiations on a case-by-case basis to Effects on Diversity machine or by slash and burn, 60% of theaccess plant genetic resources would be trees were commercially valuable. Betweenextremely difficult, and in many cases, Slash-and-burn agriculture is a traditional the machined and burned plots, the largestimpossible. way to prepare agricultural fields by 10% of trees were significantly bigger on felling trees which are then allowed to the slash and burn plots.Plant genetic resources are important, dry before being burned. This practice isas they are the raw materials needed by often perceived as an enemy of forests, The differences were not hard to, scientists and breeders to help but according to Laura Snook, Programme Trees on clear-felled plots sprouted fromachieve food security in the face of climate Leader, Forest Genetic Resources, the trunks and roots left behind, quicklychange, land and water scarcity, and an Bioversity International, it can favour the resulting in a closed canopy, favouringincreasing population. Since its adoption, regeneration of dozens of valuable tropical species that can tolerate shade. Trees thatthe Treaty has been ratified by 127 timber tree species. result from resprouting stumps or roots arecountries and includes at least 1.5 million typically multi-stemmed, so even timberplant samples of 64 crops and forages. “Banning the use of fire, which many species are unlikely to provide quality logs. governments are doing in the name ofAt the 2011 anniversary event, Bioversity protecting the environment, can reduce “Many valuable timber trees requireInternational Director General Emile Frison options for maintaining a diverse, valuable sunlight to regenerate—they don’t survivecalled for greater collaboration between and sustainable resource,” says Snook. in the small gaps produced by timber 17countries and international organizations to This conclusion is based on many years harvesting or in the clear-felled plotsensure that as much plant genetic diversity of work in Quintana Roo, Mexico, where because they are quickly overshadowed,”as possible is conserved and equitably used over 100 local communities manage says Snook. “Slash-and-burn treatmentsby the global community in pursuit of food 800,000 ha of the largest tropical forest in mimic the effects of hurricanes andsecurity and environmental sustainability. Mesoamerica for harvesting timber. lightning strikes. Burning not only controls competition, but releases nutrients that stimulate plant growth.
  12. 12. TOOLS CAPACITY BUILDING highlightsBioversity International’s work results 2ND GLOBAL NEW PRE-BREEDING to food security, nutrition, livelihoods, environmental sustainability and climatein knowledge that can shift policies,transform agricultural practices AGRIKNOWLEDGE E-LEARNING COURSE change. Yet according to consultations with universities in 2009 and 2010,and open possibilities for income, SHAREFAIR ‘Pre-breeding for effective use of agricultural biodiversity education coursesimproved nutrition and sustainable plant genetic resources’, an online are rare or non-existent and there is a need Bioversity International was one of the learning course, was released this yearfarming practices for poor rural co-organizers of a 4-day agricultural to integrate such knowledge into curricula. to strengthen capacity at the interfacecommunities. We develop knowledge knowledge sharefair in Rome in between germplasm conservation and its The new guide, Teaching Agrobiodiversity:products, tools, capacity and good September 2011. This event was a forum use in plant breeding. A Curriculum Guide for Higher Education,practices with farmers, local and to share success stories, knowledge, is a tool to support this integration, experience and innovations on informationnational governments, development Pre-breeding is a necessary first step in designed to be flexible to fit into a range and communication technologies using biodiversity arising from crop wildworkers, trainers and academia. of institutional settings. It also suggests and processes relating to agriculture, relatives and other unimproved materials suitable entry points for quickly integrating climate change, food security and rural to broaden the range of heritable genetic aspects of agricultural biodiversity intoUNDERSTANDING THE development. variations available to generate new crop existing courses. The guide discusses keyINTERNATIONAL TREATY Over 160 presenters from 70 countries varieties that have increased yields yet rely less on external inputs. issues in agricultural biodiversity education and presents a curriculum framework with took part in the sharefair and many more‘Plant Genetic Resources and Food 14 topics central to agricultural biodiversity followed events live online. In addition to This free online course, jointly sponsoredSecurity—Stakeholders’ Perspectives on processes, conservation and management. live webcasts of many sessions, which were by Bioversity International, the Food andthe International Treaty on Plant Genetic Each topic is briefly introduced along with watched by around 4,500 people, there was Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO),Resources for Food and Agriculture’ is key learning points, suggested contents, a a very successful social media campaign and the Global Crop Diversity Trust, usingan essential guide to understand the way bibliography and a list of internet resources. with a strong focus on Twitter—tweets using the platform of the Global Partnershipinternational policy affects food security. the event hashtag #SFROME reached over Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity A free PDF was made available this year, 200,000 people. Participants examined how Building, was designed to strengthenThe book, jointly published by the Food and with distribution of hard copies to key to ensure better communication to share skills among plant breeders, germplasmAgricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), stakeholders including university partners knowledge and found innovative ways to curators, university staff and students, fieldBioversity International and Earthscan, planned for early 2012. bring that knowledge to farmers. technicians and extension a comprehensive overview of thenegotiations and implementation of the Bioversity International participated inTreaty and explains the different interests several sessions including a demonstration By the end of 2011, over 5,000 people CROP TRAITS TOOL had registered for the course, with moreand views at stake between all players inthe global food chain. of an e-learning course for pre-breeding, requesting the free CD. GOES ONLINE a look at the GENESYS Gateway to Genetic Resources, a talk on using traditional crops 19 The Crop Ontology Tool is an onlineThis is the latest in the Earthscan-Bioversity International book series ‘Issues for sustainable livelihoods and an opportunity to taste quinoa cake, as well as contributing A CURRICULUM GUIDE resource that enables anyone to browse and download information regarding crop Agricultural Biodiversity’, which reviews articles to the sharefair social reporting blog FOR HIGHER EDUCATIONcurrent knowledge around topical issues in and daily event newsletter. Emile Frison This online tool is very useful for breeders,agricultural biodiversity, identifying gaps in gave an opening speech with the President In recent years, research has yielded farmers and scientists when searching forour knowledge base, synthesizing lessons of the International Fund for Agricultural a rapidly growing knowledge base on crop trait information. It can be used tolearned and proposing future research and Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze. how agricultural biodiversity is linked search for information regarding specificdevelopment actions.
  13. 13. TOOLS CAPACITY BUILDING highlightsplant traits. For example, when researchingthe trait ‘height’ of cassava, the tool CONTRIBUTING TO identifying which species are most at risk and where there are gaps in collections. publications on genetic resources, and links to the Musa Germplasm Informationprovides not only a detailed explanation FOOD SECURITY AND This vital information helps us tackle global System (MGIS) which includes accessionsthat relates to the specific query, but also challenges such as food security and data and climatic maps.any other relevant information that relates SUSTAINABILITY IN A climate the trait. The Crop Ontology Tool was CHANGING WORLDdeveloped as a collective activity between The Training Manual On Spatial Analysis A HOT PROSPECT FORCGIAR members and their partners, with In July 2011, the Platform for Of Plant Diversity and Distribution whichBioversity International leading the project. Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR) was published in 2010, has so far been SMALLHOLDER FARMERSBy the end of 2011, 49 users, who also facilitated an expert workshop on climate downloaded by over 2,000 people, and was made available in Spanish this year. A French In 2011, Bioversity International andact as curators, were already registered change and genetic resources for food version will also be published in 2012. partners reached the half-way point on aand regularly uploading content. Further and agriculture. Contributing to food project, ‘Rescuing and promoting nativedevelopment is planned for 2012. security and sustainability in a changing chilies in their centre of origin’. This world was organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) MUSANET—A COMMUNITY project is looking at how to increase theMANAGING PLANT Commission on Genetic Resources for OF EXPERTS incomes of smallholders through the use of chili (Capsicum) diversity. Chili is a crop Food and Agriculture. The workshopGENETIC RESOURCE explored different challenges that confront cultivated by farmers for thousands of The Global Musa Genetic Resources years in the Americas, used as a spice, aINFORMATION agriculture and the options that exist or Network, or ‘MusaNet’ for short, was vegetable and for medicinal purposes. could be developed to help feed the world, launched in 2011. MusaNet, coordinatedGRIN-Global is a project that provides the cope with climate change and improve the by Bioversity International, is a global Highlights of the project so far includeworld’s crop genebanks with a powerful, impact of agriculture on the environment. collaborative framework and a partnership new technologies, manuals and guidelinesflexible, easy-to-use global plant genetic of key stakeholders, to safeguard Musa regarding the harvest and post-harvestresource information management system. The event took place prior to the 13th genetic resources and promote their use operations of Capsicum, as well as Session of the Commission, in which around the world. increases in the number of accessions heldImproving the capability of genebanks to PAR also participated. PAR is hosted by in genebanks in Peru and Bolivia, makingprovide data to a global accession-level Bioversity International, which also provides Membership is based on expertise, with 62 up the largest and most diverse nationalinformation system will make it easier the secretariat, and is made possible with members already having joined, representing collections ever assembled. The hugeto assess the status of the worlds plant support from the Christensen Fund. the scientific research community, variation in biochemical attributes mirrorsgenetic resources and to identify priority government representatives, educational the accession level diversity—and hasneeds for their conservation. It will also institutions and development agencies. led to interest from chili processors andallow genebanks to make use of a generic SPATIAL ANALYSIS OF Regional research networks and other key exporters in those countries.web portal, GENESYS, which offers usersonline access to collections and an online PLANT DIVERSITY AND initiatives such as ProMusa and the Global 21 Musa Genomic Consortium (GMGC) are alsoordering system, compliant with the DISTRIBUTION represented in the expert committee.International Treaty’s Multilateral System(MLS) and Standard Material Transfer Spatial analysis helps to gather information MusaNet is an online resource with memberAgreement (SMTA). about plant diversity in specific geographical discussion forums and workspaces for locations around the world. This information the different critical thematic areas, e.g.During 2011, GRIN-Global training was about the status of plant species and evaluation, diversity, information anddelivered to people from more than 35 their patterns of distribution enables the conservation, the latest Musa news andgenebanks around the world. setting of priority areas for conservation by