“Carrying out superficial repairs to our existing food systems will no longer suffice. We need disruptive change within and across today’s varied and complex food systems. To be sustainable, food system policy choices must focus on environmental as well as nutritional and health consequences.” This was the stark warning from experts at the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS44) in October 2017.
That this disruptive change needs to include agricultural biodiversity was the central message in Bioversity International’s flagship book published this year. Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustainable Food Systems: Scientific Foundations for an Agrobiodiversity Index presents the most recent scientific evidence on how to use agricultural biodiversity in diets and in production systems to help achieve sustainable food systems.
In Bioversity International's 2017 Annual Report, we celebrate our science, our partners, and how #agrobiodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet @JMartonLefevre @AnnTutwiler @BioversityInt
Agricultural biodiversity is the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture.
Bioversity International's vision is that agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet. Our mission is 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. Below are some research highlights from 2017 linked to our four strategic objectives which are to diversify diets, production systems, seeds and planting material, and to safeguard agricultural biodiversity.
In the research highlights section of the Annual Report, you will find ten stories based on scientific papers produced by Bioversity International scientists working with partners.
These highlights represent just a small selection of the 169 papers produced in 2017.
Bioversity International works with partners around the world including a wide range of funders and research partners who share our vision and mission 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.
Bioversity International is proud to be a CGIAR Research Centre. We participate in six CGIAR Research Programs and two Platforms supported by CGIAR Trust Fund members in close collaboration with the other 14 CGIAR Centres and hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector.
We thank all of our partners for their critical and continued support.
Mobilizing funds for international agricultural research remains challenging. Nonetheless, Bioversity International’s overall revenue from bilateral grants has grown by 21% since 2012 – the highest level of bilateral funding ever! We thank all of our funders for their critical and continued support.
In 2017, our relationships with the governments of Belgium, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Peru and Switzerland were further strengthened. Our partnerships with multilateral organizations keen to mainstream agrobiodiversity in sustainable food systems such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Commission (EC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment and the Global Environment Facility have also been strengthened, as has our support from foundations. These commitments are complemented by many other supporters of our work who are listed in this report.
We would also like to highlight important additional in-kind contributions of facilities and experts from Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven and the governments of China, Germany, India, and Italy among others. We estimate the value of in-kind contributions amounted to at least $5 million in 2017.
For more information, download our 2017 Financial Statements
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias
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.
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
Writing: Arwen Bailey, Jeremy Cherfas, Samantha Collins, Mirna Franic, Marta Millere, with contributions from many of our scientists
Contributors: Nora Capozio, Oonagh Darby, Maria Garruccio, Karen Harmann, Annie Huie, Allison Poulos
Design: Pablo Gallo
Web Editor: Carol Blay
Project Manager: Samantha Collins
A new study shows that farmers in Uganda who grow varietal mixtures of beans and of bananas perceive a yield increase of up to 28%. The results are boosting farmers' motivations to make more use of agricultural biodiversity to achieve more resilient production.
A mixture of different varieties of a crop can deliver important benefits to farmers. It protects against epidemics of pests and diseases, because if one variety is particularly susceptible than others, the more resistant ones, pick up the slack. The same goes for weather. Varieties that do not suffer drought or cold as badly will buffer those that are more susceptible. Together, these effects often mean that overall yield is more stable from year to year. Even in the absence of pests and diseases or extreme weather events, a mixture can often provide a bigger harvest than the same varieties grown singly.
Research by Bioversity International with partners has demonstrated the benefits of variety mixtures for many crops in many countries, rich and poor. One of those studies was carried out in Uganda on bananas (Musa sapientum) which are an important source of carbohydrates and common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), an important source of protein. Despite the evidence of benefits demonstrated by these studies, farmers in Uganda like in many other countries have been lacklustre in their uptake of variety mixtures.
The study investigated the factors associated with uptake of variety mixtures through surveying women and men farmers in equal numbers. Researchers assessed various aspects of the household including their propensity to use variety mixtures, experience with pests and diseases, their membership of farmers’ groups and, crucially, how they thought their yields had changed over the past five years when they planted mixtures.
The data permitted a mathematical analysis that revealed some of the factors that influenced the propensity to use mixtures. An important result was that the age and gender of the household head made no difference to how likely they were to use mixtures.
The strongest effect was how dependent the household was on agriculture. This makes sense, because if a farmer relies on agriculture, they will want to see the best returns on their efforts and will be on the lookout for technologies and approaches that maximize returns. If they have other sources of income, they might not be that eager to look out for those technologies. Farmers who produced bananas were more likely to plant mixtures than those who produced beans, possibly because traditionally, banana varieties have different uses and are grown together. Beans, especially recently, have been promoted as single varieties for commercialization – often with subsidies.
Larger families are less likely to grow mixtures, and researchers believe this may be because with many mouths to feed they are less willing to take the risk of trying a new approach. People who belong to a farmers’ group are more likely to use mixtures, probably because within the group they can share practical information and experiences about growing mixtures. Farmer groups are generally a good influence on the adoption of technologies.
It is rather impossible to promote a technology that farmers think cannot work or improve yields. This is why it is important that in this study, it was clear that farmers who used mixtures believed that they were more productive and this improvement in yields was confirmed by other studies. For beans, farmers perceived that yield was 5.2% higher than monocultures over the past three years. The increase for bananas was perceived to be even greater, 28.6%.
There are no obvious explanations for the difference in perceived yield increase between beans and banana. It could have something to do with the crop itself, or annual versus perennial production, or maybe even the size of the plant relative to the distance pests and diseases can travel. Older farmers tend to say that they have seen a greater increase in yield. This could be because they have greater experience, both in growing mixtures and in assessing changes in yield.
This study has shown that farmers do perceive a benefit from using mixtures. Farmer groups are an important conduit for practical information about mixtures, which suggests that extension agents should make more use of such groups to promote the benefits of mixtures.
Equally, more research is needed choosing the appropriate components of mixtures that suit specific contexts in growing areas and that will lead to greater productivity. This will result in more resilient harvests and agroecosystems as more farmers make use of agricultural biodiversity through variety mixtures.
'Yield perceptions, determinants and adoption impact of on farm varietal mixtures for common bean and banana in Uganda'
This paper was co-authored by Bioversity International scientists Rose Nankya, Elisabetta Gotor, Enoch Kikulwe and Devra Jarvis with partners from the National Agricultural Research Organization in Uganda, the University of Naples and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in Italy, and Washington State University, USA.
Citation: Nankya, R.; Mulumba, J.W.; Caracciolo, F.; Raimondo, M.; Schiavello, F.; Gotor, E.; Kikulwe, E.; Jarvis, D.I. (2017) Yield perceptions, determinants and adoption impact of on farm varietal mixtures for common bean and banana in Uganda. Sustainability 9(8), 1321. ISSN: 2071-1050; http://hdl.handle.net/10568/89680
Farmers in #Uganda who grow varietal mixtures of #beans & of #bananas perceive a yield increase of up to 28%, study shows @bioversityint @PIM_CGIAR @WLE_CGIAR
Mixing it up. How mixing varieties of crops like #beans & #bananas is harvesting rewards for #farmers in #Uganda
This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutes and Markets (PIM) and is supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Donors. Additional support was provided by the International Fund for Agricultural Development of the UN (IFAD), and the Swiss Agency for International Development and Cooperation (SDC).