2018 was a tough year. Seemingly every day another headline appeared in the international news media on the increasing urgency of the climate change or biodiversity loss emergencies. When the newspapers were not talking about the planet’s increasingly fragile health, human health came under the spotlight, in particular the rise of diet-related illnesses and premature deaths. It’s easy to get despondent at what appears to be a lack of policies and action to tackle these problems.
So I am going to buck the trend and serve up some good news – a hero of the hour has arrived to save the day! Biodiversity can provide the tools and pathways to get us out of trouble, to a safe operating space for humanity. By eating it and planting it, we not only improve dietary diversity for people, but also the health of the farming systems that provide food and income security for millions of people around the world. The even better news? By using more of it in diets, markets and production systems, we will safeguard it for the future.
Today’s global challenges of poverty, malnutrition, climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss call for new solutions, innovations, and stronger partnerships that can deliver higher impact.
To respond to these challenges, and building on their complementary mandates and long collaboration, in 2018, Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) committed to joining forces to create an Alliance.
Healthy diets from sustainable food systems
Productive and resilient farms, forests and landscapes
Effective genetic resources conservation and use
In the research highlights section of the Annual Report, you will find stories based on scientific papers and tools produced by Bioversity International scientists working with partners.
These highlights represent just a small selection of the 145 papers produced in 2018.
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. Supported by CGIAR Trust Fund members and 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, in 2018 Bioversity International participated in:
- Three Agri-Food System CGIAR Research Programs (Forests, Trees and Agroforestry; Grains, Legumes and Dryland Cereals; and Roots, Tubers and Bananas)
- Four Global Integrating Programs (Agriculture for Nutrition and Health; Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security; Policies, Institutions and Markets; and Water, Land and Ecosystems)
- Two Research Support Platforms (Genebank Platform; and Platform for Big Data in Agriculture)
We thank all of our partners for their critical and continued support.
In 2018, total revenue was US$30.5 million and expenditure $32.3 million, resulting in a deficit of $1.6 million. This deficit was purposefully incurred as part of the 3-year development plan for the period 2017–2019, which applied reserves to invest in the growth of Bioversity International by incurring operational deficits in those three years. 2020 will be planned and managed to result in a breakeven position. Despite the deficit recorded, operational reserves remain at a healthy level, equivalent of 127 days of average expenditure, well above the minimum target of 90 days set by the Board of Trustees. This application of reserves has allowed strategic maintenance or increase in staff capacity in key areas, and to shift the income portfolio to increase financial resilience.
For more information, download our 2018 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:
Trish Malloch Brown
M. Ann Tutwiler
Doug van den Aardweg
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
Trish Malloch Brown
Writing: Carlo Angelico, Nora Capozio, Jeremy Cherfas, Samantha Collins, with contributions from many of our scientists
Contributors: Maria Garruccio, Annie Huie, Allison Poulos, Consuelo Tenente
Design: Pablo Gallo
Project Manager: Nora Capozio
The Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Initiative promotes indigenous biodiversity for more sustainable and resilient food systems. This approach is summarized in a user-friendly toolkit for policymakers and is making an impact in four countries.
"We consider ourselves as custodians and protectors of our biodiversity, which is our heritage, our strength and the basis of our development." This is the foreword of the Biodiversity Conservation Policy adopted by the people of Busia, the first of Kenya’s 47 counties to endorse a policy focused on safeguarding and promoting local biodiversity.
Covering an area of 1,695 Km2, from the granite hills of Amukura and Chelelemuk to the shores of Lake Victoria, Busia is rich in genetic resources and traditional knowledge. It is home to a range of indigenous crops, typically found only in smallholder farms and household gardens. Leafy vegetables such as Spider plant and Jute mallow, protein-rich and hardy legumes like Bambara groundnut, and fruits like jujube (Zambarau) bring colour to the earth.
However, despite this biodiverse potential, Busia continues to depend on food imports, while poverty rates sre close to 70% and 25% of children under 5 years are stunted. Although many indigenous crops are an inherent part of local culture and traditional health practices, they remain largely underutilized.
Low consumer awareness of the nutritional value of indigenous crops, coupled with poorly developed value chains and the stigma of traditional plants as 'food for the poor' are leading to the disappearance of many nutrient-rich species and the shift to unhealthy diets. As a consequence, the indigenous knowledge about the collection and preparation of these local delicacies is rapidly eroding. However, since its adoption in 2018, Busia's Biodiversity Conservation Policy is reversing this trend.
The future for Busia looks brighter as there are clear data demonstrating that the local biodiversity has the potential to provide key micronutrients and act as an important source of food and income, leading to community resilience to climate change and economic turbulence.
For example, the local African nightshade contains 16 times more iron than kale while, among fruits, the indigenous chocolate berry offers almost 5 times the vitamin A content of pineapple. Furthermore, indigenous plant species can withstand harsh climatic conditions and stresses, as they are adapted to poor soils and droughts.
Busia’s Biodiversity Conservation Policy recognizes the benefits offered by these forgotten crops and has developed an action plan to conserve and promote them. The policy also includes specific provisions for designated conservation areas and further incorporation of lessons on the importance of native species into school curricula. In addition to raising awareness of the benefits of local agrobiodiversity, the policy is building market capacity, ensuring that farmers can receive fair prices in exchange for their produce. It also supports the development of an innovative direct procurement model in which smallholder farmers from the Sustainable Income Generating Investment Group (SINGI) supply African leafy vegetables directly to local institutions such as schools and hospitals.
The policy is the culmination of nearly two years of engagement, as the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Initiative (BFN) and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) have worked closely with a range of partners – including policymakers, farmer groups and school procurers. Activities have included training of 4,000 farmers on using sustainable agricultural practices, as well as nutrient analyses of 18 foods, contributing to the update of the Food Composition Tables for Kenya.
The Busia experience can be adapted to address conservation and nutrition concerns elsewhere. "This will be a case study that other counties can learn from and replicate" said Victor Wasike, BFN National Coordinator. To make this initiative easily replicable, the lessons and methodologies that emerged have been systematized in a toolkit designed to facilitate the integration of biodiversity in food systems.
In addition to the best practices generated in Kenya, the Biodiversity Mainstreaming for Healthy & Sustainable Food Systems toolkit captures the experiences and evidence collected during the implementation of BFN in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
For more than seven years, BFN has pioneered a participatory approach to food systems, using indigenous food biodiversity as a lens to address malnutrition, farmer livelihood resilience, and sustainability. The initiative has documented and shared knowledge on 195 nutrient-rich, locally-adapted species that range from African leafy vegetables to Amazonian fruits. "Harnessing the potential benefits of these species requires a multi-level approach able to foster their conservation and sustainable use," said Teresa Borelli, Programme Specialist, Bioversity International.
Such an approach is made easily accessible through the toolkit, which lays out in a user-friendly fashion a comprehensive methodology linking food biodiversity, nutrition, and sustainable food systems. While identifying key steps to increase awareness, provide evidence and influence policies, the toolkit highlights general focus areas that can be scaled up and adapted to different contexts.
At the same time, the document is enriched by site-specific success stories showcasing how countries have addressed sectoral barriers, nurtured partnerships and produced tangible biodiversity-based solutions – ranging from the successful integration of the vitamin-rich juçara fruit into Brazilian school meals to the promotion of recipes based on underutilized wild species during the Alaçatı Wild Herb Festival in Turkey.
While the importance of agrobiodiversity to food security and nutrition acquires greater recognition in the global debate, resources like the toolkit offer valuable inspiration for the development of innovative methods linking agriculture and health with biodiversity.
Busia County Biodiversity Policy: Our Heritage, Our Strength and the Basis of Our Development 2016 - 2023
The policy was approved in 2018 and developed in collaboration with the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Initiative, led by Bioversity International.
Citation: Busia County Government, Republic of Kenya (2016) Busia county biodiversity policy: our heritage, our strength and the basis of our development 2016 – 2023. 61 p.
Biodiversity Mainstreaming for Healthy & Sustainable Food Systems: A Toolkit to Support Incorporating Biodiversity into Policies and Programmes
This toolkit was developed by Bioversity International scientists Danny Hunter, Teresa Borelli, Nina Lauridsen, Eliot Gee and Giulia Rota Nodari, in collaboration with partners from Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
Citation: Hunter, D.; Borelli, T.; Olsen Lauridsen, N.; Gee, E.; Rota Nodari, G.; Moura de Oliveira Beltrame, D.; Oliviera, C.; W. Wasike, V.; Samarasinghe, G.; Tan, A.; Güner, B. (2018). Biodiversity mainstreaming for healthy & sustainable food systems: A toolkit to support incorporating biodiversity into policies and programmes. Rome: Italy, Bioversity International, 52 p.
This research is conducted as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and is supported by contributors to the CGIAR Trust Fund.
BFN is supported by the Global Environment Facility and coordinated by Bioversity International, with implementation support from the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The development of Busia's Biodiversity Conservation Policy has been supported by additional funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
Since nutrition is a multi-sectoral issue, the BFN Initiative engages several ministries, such as Ministries of Environment, Health, Agriculture, Education and Social Protection.
National partners include:
- Ministry of the Environment (Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Secretaria de Biodiversidade e Florestas)
- Government agencies, programmes and partnerships from the areas of agriculture, food supply, social development, education, health, food and nutrition
- Academic institutions, including the Federal University of Goiás (UFG), the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA)
- Value chain actors, including the Quilombola communities in Goiás and local communities in Ceará
- Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization
- County Ministries of Agriculture, Nutrition, Education and Health
- Academic institutions and research organizations, including: Egerton University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, National Genebank of Kenya (NGBK)
- Value chain actors, including the Sustainable Income Generating Investment Group
- Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment/Dept of Agriculture
- Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health and Nutrition
- Plant Genetic Resources Centre (PGRC)
- Bandaranayake Memorial Ayurvedic Research Institute
- Department of National Botanic Gardens
- University of Peradeniya
- University of Ruhuna
- Wayamba University
- Farming communities at the 3 pilot sites and women groups
- Green movement of Sri Lanka (NGO)
- Community Development Centre (NGO)
- Sevalanka Foundation Agriculture Project
- General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policy
- Ministry of Environment and Forestry, General Directorate of Primary Health Care Services, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education
- A wide array of academic institutions and research organizations
- Value chain actors, including Alaçatı and Siyez producer associations