Taking action to conserve plant genetic resources in Mexico and Central America

Photo: N. Palmer, CIAT

CCAFS and its partners aim to lead the way on strategic action to conserve plant genetic resources in Mesoamerica – Mexico and Central America – in a move towards adapting to climate change. Policy makers involved in participatory consultations are developing clear steps for action.

The Strategic Action Plan to Strengthen the Conservation and Use of Mesoamerican Plant Genetic Resources in Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change (SAPM) is a ten-year roadmap endorsed by agriculture ministers throughout Mesoamerica. Plans for conserving genetic material and resources are critical to food security because the genetic resources in plant diversity will help farmers adapt to changing conditions and produce sufficient food in the face of climate change and other threats. As well as setting regional policy, the roadmap is an invaluable resource for political and technical decision-making and is an essential tool for preparing national plans to conserve plant genetic resources.

The successful development of the action plan was thanks to two key elements: the broad consultation process involving all countries in the region, and the scientific analysis of the current state of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The analysis focused on ten common Mesoamerican crops and their wild relatives, including beans, sweet potato, papaya and avocado, and underlined the need for action. These crops are important to local, regional and global food security, contribute to diverse diets, generate income and can adapt to changing conditions. But the roadmap could just as easily apply to any crop.

The consultations brought together over 100 representatives from national and regional governments, universities, NGOs, civil society, donors and farmers. The response to the roadmap and action plan was overwhelmingly positive, and it enjoys widespread support.

“Mesoamerican farmers use the wealth of plant genetic resources to produce sufficient food in diversified agricultural systems, resilient to climate change and other threats, and have access to these resources which are properly being conserved for the region and the world.” Strategic Action Plan to Strengthen the Conservation and Use of Mesoamerican Plant Genetic Resources in Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change (SAPM) Vision
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To bolster climate change adaptation, Ministers endorsed a major strategy to conserve plant genetic resources, focused on ten common Mesoamerican crops including beans, sweet potato, papaya and avocado.