In 2015, at the United Nations in New York, countries agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals; in Paris at the Climate Summit, they reached an agreement on Climate Change; and at the Convention on Biological Diversity, countries focused on mainstreaming agricultural biodiversity into health, nutrition and production systems.
Agricultural biodiversity has an increasingly important role to play in creating long-term food system sustainability, with contributions to make in terms of improving nutrition, enhancing resilience of agricultural production system and increasing adaptation to climate change,.
In the report you will find examples that show the impact of Bioversity International’s work on people's lives on the ground in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our work is organized around three initiatives: ‘Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems’; ‘Productive and Resilient Farms, Forests and Landscapes’; and ‘Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use’. Through these initiatives, we investigate how to safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity for future generations and how to use it to diversify diets, production systems, seeds and planting materials.
“Agricultural biodiversity has an increasingly important role to play in creating long-term food system sustainability.”
Increasing the sustainable use of agricultural and tree biodiversity in production and consumption systems plays an important part in solving today’s challenges – reduce global malnutrition, adapt to climate change, increase productivity and reduce risk, and address shrinking food diversity.
Bioversity International’s strategic objectives are to diversify diets, production systems, seeds and planting material, and safeguard biodiversity.
To achieve these objectives, Bioversity International integrates its research portfolio into three initiatives.
Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems
Productive and resilient farms and forests
Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use
In 2015, Bioversity International produced 169 scientific publications on topics that include:
- banana genetic resources conservation and management systems
- biodiversity and ecosystem services
- diet diversity and nutrition
- forest genetic resources and restoration
- fruit tree and tree crops diversity
- genetic resources policies and institutions
- neglected and underutilized species
- on farm and in situ conservation.
Bioversity International works with partners around the world to identify and deliver innovative solutions to ensure agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet.
Our partners are national and international research systems and advanced research institutes, non-governmental organizations, foundations, private sector organizations, government ministries, UN agencies and international bodies.
Bioversity International's work would not be possible without the support of the CGIAR Fund members and a wide range of funding partners who share our vision and mission.
The continuous and fruitful collaboration with our partners is critical for Bioversity International to deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.
Mobilizing funding is becoming more challenging as many CGIAR donors cut their aid budgets and divert resources to crisis management and achieving short-term results. To address these significant funding cuts, Bioversity International has used a combination of cost-cutting measures, strategic use of reserves, and has developed additional fundraising plans.
Funding to Bioversity International from bilateral sources is on the increase and development of several ‘big idea’ evidence-based products, which are attractive and ripe for support by development budgets, will help the Institute to recover and grow again.
Revenue in 2015 amounted to US$ 36.3 million (2014: $42.4 million) against expenditures of $36.9 million (2014: $42.2 million), resulting in an operating deficit of $0.6 million for 2015. Bioversity International’s reserves were at $10.7 million (115 days) at 31 December 2015, compared with $11.1 million (107 days) at 31 December 2014, both of which are above the target of 90 days set by the Board.
Despite the challenges posed by several unexpected cuts and a difficult bilateral resource mobilization environment, Bioversity International has implemented effective mitigating measures and continues to achieve great results in delivering scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.
For more information, download our 2015 Financial Statements
Board Chair: Cristián Samper
Vice Chair: Carl Hausmann
Maria Helena Semedo
M. Ann Tutwiler
Douglas van den Aardweg
Bioversity International created a UK registered charity (no. 1131854) in October 2008 to increase awareness and support for its research agenda and activities. Bioversity International UK is governed by an independent Board of Trustees.
Board Chair: Trish Malloch-Brown
Jacqueline de Chollet
M. Ann Tutwiler
Bioversity International USA, Inc aims to engage and inspire a wide range of partners and donors to ensure that agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet. It is led by a committed and highly regarded Board of Trustees:
M. Ann Tutwiler
Two devastating earthquakes hit Nepal in 2015, killing and injuring thousands of people, and leaving over 3.5 million people in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical assistance. The most severely affected areas were the remote, risk-prone, mountainous parts of central and western Nepal, where many rural communities depend on already difficult terrain to cultivate food.
Reports of the devastation caused by the earthquakes made international headlines around the world, but among the debris and heartache left in its wake, there is another story that has been little told: the loss of many carefully stored seeds of traditional varieties on which vulnerable farming families depend for food and income. In the six most affected districts, this loss was estimated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to be 60% of households’ food and seed stocks.
On the ground, that meant that many of the winter crops that were ready to harvest were lost, including wheat, barley, young maize and legumes. Carefully saved seeds of widely grown crops such as rice, millet, beans, buckwheat, foxtail, proso-millet and summer vegetable seeds were damaged or destroyed. Some minor crops which were only stored in low quantities, including varieties of bean, buckwheat and vegetable seeds like radish, were completely lost. In some cases, farmers were able to recover some or all of seed stocks from their damaged homes in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes and aftershocks, but mishandling and poor storage - many of these farmers and their families were living in chaotic conditions in temporary tin-roofed shelters - have reduced the quality of those seeds, putting their future viability into question.
The immediate reaction was to replenish those stocks quickly in order to secure food supplies and agricultural livelihoods. This approach runs the risk of rushing in inappropriate seed and varieties from other regions, poorly adapted to local ecological conditions and cultural preferences. Getting it right was vital to avoid longer-term food insecurity, as well as to safeguard the local agricultural biodiversity for the future.
To ensure that seeds match farmers’ needs, Bioversity International directly involves them as ‘citizen scientists’ in the selection and testing process of varieties taken from genebanks, plant breeding programmes and farmers’ fields. A large number of farmers can participate, and varieties are tested in a range of real growing conditions. Another benefit is that farmers can keep and exchange their preferred varieties. This approach also creates an exchange of knowledge: the scientists benefit from the valuable feedback about farmer preferences while the farmers increase their own knowledge of useful varieties and traits.
This crowdsourcing approach is one that Bioversity International has been developing through its ‘Seeds for Needs’ initiative which works with more than 20,000 farmers and on different crops in 11 countries including India, Guatemala and Honduras.
Deploying this innovative approach in the remote areas of Nepal is critical to support the farmers’ urgent need for seeds. Bioversity International scientists from Nepal, India and Colombia led a 2-day training course attended by plant breeders, agronomists, social scientists and other researchers and development professionals. The training gave participants practical knowledge on the concept and application of crowdsourcing for variety selection and dissemination.
The workshop led to a commitment to roll out this approach for priority crops in four severely affected districts for rapid detection of farmer preferred varieties of target crops in 2015 and 2016. Also agreed was a priority portfolio of ten varieties for a number of target crops (rice, millet, beans, buckwheat and amaranth), with 300 seed sets for each. This means that each variety is tested in 100 fields in each community participating in the project, to select the most preferred ones for each location.
In addition to the crowdsourcing work, Bioversity International, with the local partner LI-BIRD and the National Genebank, are carrying out a Seed Recovery Programme to rescue and safeguard rare native seeds through collecting missions by farmers in the area, and to rebuild local seed systems in 10 of the 14 most-affected districts.
This effort to rescue, multiply and safeguard these seeds is unique among activities by the post-disaster relief agencies working in Nepal.
At the beginning of 2016, the programme reached a milestone when seeds of rare and endangered crop species and varieties collected by farmers and field staff were handed over to the National Genebank. These samples represent 446 local varieties of 46 different crops – 41% of which are considered rare. Most of the rare cultivars are traditional varieties of cereals (rice, maize, wheat, buckwheat, barley, and amaranth), grain legumes (beans, lentils, soybean, rice bean, sweet pea) and vegetables (chilli, radish, turnip, tomato, pumpkin, cucumber) that are important for local food and nutrition security.
This article was adapted from Safeguarding native seeds and rebuilding local seed systems in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquakesand Matching seeds to needs in the aftermath of the Nepal Earthquakesby Bioversity International scientists Bhuwon Sthapit and Devendra Gauchan.
This work is part of: the GEF/UNEP Project: Integrating Traditional Crop Genetic Diversity into Technology: Using a Biodiversity Portfolio Approach to Buffer against Unpredictable Environmental Change in the Nepal Himalayas; the Global Crop Diversity Trust/Bioversity International/Nepal Agricultural Research Council Project: Rebuilding local seed system: Collection, conservation and repatriation of native crop seeds in earthquake affected areas in Nepal and Netherlands; the Genetic Resources Policy Initiative/Bioversity International project: Rebuilding Family Farming in earthquake affected areas in Nepal.
It is also carried out with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, the Local Initiative for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD), the Nepal Agricultural Research Council, the Department of Agriculture, Development Fund, Norway and the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC), Nepal.
The seed rescue collection for Seed Recovery Programme is implemented by LI-BIRD in three districts with technical assistance from the national genebank. It is funded through the Genetic Resource Policy Initiative (GRPI)-Phase 2 project of Bioversity International in partnership with National Gene Bank. Nepal is also implementing the Seed Rescue collection for seed recovery in seven other earthquake affected districts funded by the Global Crop Diversity Trust. This work is also carried out through the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.