Impacts through policies and partnerships

M. Mitchell (IFPRI)
Outcomes & Impacts

Costa Rica, Nepal and Uganda adopt crop diversity policies as part of climate-resilience planning

East Africa
Latin America
South Asia
Priorities and Policies for CSA

All countries need access to a constant supply of genetic resources to be able to develop new varieties of crops, especially to meet the challenges of climate change.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, created under the auspices of the United Nations and administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recognizes countries’ rights over their genetic resources. The associated Multilateral System of Access and Benefit Sharing promotes the sharing of the germplasm. Through the Multilateral System, countries can share crop genetic diversity for agricultural research and crop breeding. Effectively, the Multilateral System creates a truly global pool of genetic resources for countries’ agricultural development and adaptation to climate change.


Scientific support in accessing this system will provide greater opportunities for Costa Rica, Nepal and Uganda to develop new crop varieties that will cope better with projected climate change. Experts from CCAFS assisted national government agencies in Costa Rica, Nepal and Uganda to sign on to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Multilateral System. Each country generated national policies that facilitate the exchange of genetic resources with other countries belonging to the agreement.

In Costa Rica, CCAFS national partners drafted and negotiated a memorandum of understanding among national agencies after a programme of research, awareness-raising and capacity-building activities. The partners were the National Commission on Plant Genetic Resources (CONAREFI), the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) the National Institute for Innovation and Transfer of Agricultural Technologies (INTA) and the Ministry of Agriculture.

To reach agreement, Bioversity International staff and national partners produced ground-breaking reports on the importance of genetic resources for Costa Rica’s production of food security crops; the dependence of Costa Rica on other countries' genetic resources of these crops; and the potential importance of such genetic resources in assisting with the development of crops that are better adapted to climate change.

In Nepal, partners, including the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) and Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LIBIRD), led the process of revising the National Agrobiodiversity Policy to allow the country to join the System. A series of consultations with ministries and other stakeholders showed how access to material from other countries will become increasingly important for Nepal to adapt to changing climatic conditions. This created the authorizing environment for the Cabinet to approve the new policy and action plan.

In Uganda, CCAFS involvement overcame a policy bottleneck that had existed for many years, where no organization was clearly recognized to have authority to provide access to the country’s plant genetic resources. A negotiated agreement among 3 lead agencies defined responsibilities and regulated access to the resources and benefit sharing. Once that agreement had been reached, national institutions and CCAFS partners, with the support of Bioversity International, prepared Uganda’s first list of crop germplasm to be made available through the Multilateral System and notified the Treaty Secretariat accordingly, creating the opportunity for users in Uganda and around the world to access germplasm conserved in Uganda.

“Uganda has developed a national policy on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture… This has made it easier and clearer for all parties to have access to Plant Genetic Resources for food and agriculture, which is important for climate change adaptation and ultimately for the country’s food security.” Gloria Otieno, John Wasswa Mulumba and Francis Ogwal, Uganda