“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
Nutritious and resilient African leafy vegetables are making a comeback in Busia County, Kenya, thanks to a pilot procurement scheme that is sending local, nutritious and diverse crops back to school. This initiative is developing markets and value chains for traditional crops by using them in school-feeding programmes. This win-win approach is increasing crop diversity in both diets and production systems, resulting in healthier people, healthier food systems and improved livelihoods.
Busia County, Kenya, is rich in biological diversity. It has a variety of agroecological zones suitable for growing a diverse range of plants and crops with the potential to meet nutrition needs and sustainably support agricultural productivity.
Yet people living in Busia County are among the poorest and most food insecure in Kenya with poverty rates around 70% and two-thirds unable to meet their basic food needs. Twenty-six percent of children under five are stunted and 11% are underweight. At the same time obesity is on the rise, along with an increase in diabetes and high blood pressure.
Several challenges are affecting food production, including climate change, severe weather, changing land use, water pollution and soil erosion. Shifts in eating habits and preferences, and a lack of access to quality seeds, have left most communities relying on just a handful of food crops for their sustenance. This has come with a decline in the production and consumption of traditional crops, including African leafy vegetables, nutritious, weedy, semi-cultivated species adapted to local growing environments and more resistant to pests and diseases, requiring little management, pesticides and fertilizers.
A food procurement model approach between local producers and schools, carried out by Bioversity International and partners, is simultaneously addressing consumer demand and supply constraints linked to marketing traditional crops.
One farmer group began by supplying African leafy vegetables directly to St. Mary’s School, Mundika, under a negotiated memorandum of understanding. The farmers grow the vegetables directly on school land reducing transport costs and food losses. The agreement means that the school has a reliable and constant supply of quality African leafy vegetables while the farmers have a dependable buyer for their produce. The 400 students benefit by consuming a more diversified and nutrient-rich diet through their school meal.
“There is nothing more important than seeing my pupils fed on a nutritious and balanced diet. This will improve their health and increase their academic performance and reduce absenteeism due to sickness and diet-related diseases,” commented Mr. Obonyo, School Principle, St. Mary’s School.
Additional benefits of having the vegetable plots on the school premises are the educational opportunities. Students are getting hands-on experience in growing and using local crops in food dishes, and learning about sustainable agricultural practices.
“Other schools in the area have shown interest in adopting this approach as they see that providing healthy balanced diets need not be expensive and that barriers can be overcome. This reflects what we have found in other project sites where we have carried out similar procurement schemes, such as in Brazil,” explains Danny Hunter, Scientist and Global Project Coordinator of the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project, Bioversity International.
Since this initial success, training was provided to 25 farmer groups to build capacity to sustainably produce African leafy vegetables, while nutrition education activities were carried out to improve the capacity of schools and clinics to benefit from leafy vegetables consumption. Eight farmer groups have now signed contracts with 13 schools and 1 hospital for the provision of African leafy vegetables to be included in their institutional meals.
“Looking ahead, we are currently planning a workshop with stakeholders to roll out and test the procurement model in more locations in Kenya and to look at including additional countries, such as Tanzania and Ethiopia,” concludes Hunter.
Critical support for this research has been received from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) with additional support from the MacArthur Foundation.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition initiative is led by Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey and coordinated by Bioversity International, with implementation support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
This work is carried out in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health and is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.
Key implementing partners include SINGI, CABE, the Busia County Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, and Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).