by Jacob van Etten
“So we pulled out the radishes!” We are standing next to a plot with three different wheat varieties in a CCAFS-led Climate-Smart Village in Vaishali district, India. Farmers here are testing out wheat varieties we supplied to them through a climate change adaptation project. “The wheat seeds arrived late, but we still wanted to test them. So we made the space.”
During our visit to Vaishali, it was clear that farmers liked the new wheat varieties. Read more »
by Ronnie Vernooy
Upstream and downstream, the operations of CGIAR centers face a range of policy challenges related to genetic resources. Upstream, a new research focus on developing technologies that can be taken forward by private companies requires striking a balance between providing incentives for private-sector engagement and maintaining maximum public availability for the goods that the centers develop. Downstream, greater involvement with formal and informal seed systems at the national level, to produce and distribute quality seed, depends on national level policies (and their absence) that can determine the success of these activities.
In our survey for the report Flows under stress: Availability of plant genetic resources in times of climate and policy change, we found that centers generally did not face significant challenges in getting access to proprietary technology from companies and research institutions. Instead, most difficulties arose where the centers provide technologies to private sector companies. Read more »
by Ronnie Vernooy
Genebanks appear to be at a crossroads. Thanks to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the scene has been set for an unprecedented level of global co-operation for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. In practice, however, the situation is largely static and many actors are unwilling to assume more proactive roles.
The survey on genebank managers, Availability of plant genetic resources in times of climate and policy change, revealed that a number of priorities have been identified that linked to recent climate change. Most notably, there is increasing interest in collecting and characterizing the wild relatives of some crops, in the hope of finding useful traits of particular interest, such as tolerance to extreme heat or cold. Despite their desire to collect and characterize wild relatives, CGIAR genebank managers also report that it is becoming more difficult for most of them to access new germplasm, with the exception of materials from well-established genebanks in Europe and North America. Read more »
By Jeremy Cherfas
When it comes to climate change and agriculture, almost all you hear about is the impact on short-lived crops, arable and horticultural. What about perennial tree crops? A newly published literature review shows that farmers are already feeling – and responding to – the effects of climate change on tropical trees.
What do you do when your mango trees – which took 15 years to start bearing fruit, and which have a good 50 years ahead of them – give up on you? Bioversity researchers decided to ask farmers. Progressive farmers, they found, are cutting out branches that aren’t bearing fruit and grafting new varieties onto their trees. Read more »
By Jeremy Cherfas
The effects of climate change on agriculture have been widely discussed. Less so, the specific impacts on conservation of plant genetic resources. Toby Hodgkin and Paul Bordoni, scientists at Bioversity International, fill that gap with a recent paper in the Journal of Crop Improvement. Hodgkin and Bordoni take it as axiomatic that intensification results in the loss of agricultural biodiversity, and that improved sustainability will require the use of more, and more diverse, plant genetic resources. Where will those resources come from?
by Prem Narain Mathur, Bioversity International
Climate change is likely to profoundly affect production in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, which, in turn, can have serious consequences for food security in South Asia. Bioversity International, with support from CCAFS, is working with partners in India and Nepal to address this by exploring means of strengthening the link between researchers and local farmers in the context of adaptation to climate risks; exploring effective means of introducing new adapted landraces and varieties in the context of social and cultural barriers; and understanding local seed systems for adaptation under changing production constraints. Read more »
By Lisen Stenberg
Agrobiodiversity can be described as the result of the interaction between the environment, genetic resources and human activities. It covers the variety of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are found in the agricultural ecosystem, as well as the different farming techniques used by farmers. Local knowledge and culture are vital parts of agrobiodiversity, because it is the human activity of agriculture that shapes and conserves this biodiversity. So why is this important for fighting climate change?
by Jeremy Cherfas, Bioversity International.
A new climate change tool will not only help farmers to prepare for the future, it may also spur implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
Although 127 countries rushed to ratify the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, far fewer have implemented it in national law. The reasons are many, and one that comes up often is that lawmakers don’t actually understand its importance. A planning meeting for a new Bioversity project, Strengthening National Capacities to Implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, funded by the Dutch government, heard this over and over again from representatives of the eight countries taking part in the project. But the meeting also heard about a new tool that could help to raise awareness - the Climate Analogue Tool.
Delegates to the 13th meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), which opens formally at FAO in Rome on Monday 18 July, attended a Special Information Seminar on Climate change and genetic resources for food and agriculture: state of knowledge, risks and opportunities on Saturday.
Among the speakers was Andy Jarvis, CCAFS Theme Leader, who took the opportunity to tell the Commission that the exchange of genetic resources, one of the CGRFA's key concerns, will be an essential aspect of the adaptation of agriculture to climate change. Jarvis explained the idea of "future climates," that conditions predicted for, say, Zimbabwe in 2050 were very like conditions today in Democratic Republic Congo. So varieties and agricultural practices that do well in DRC now probably have something to offer Zimbabwe down the line. Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)