Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and tree biodiversity

Effective genetic resources conservation and use

Effective genetic resources conservation and use

A Bioversity International research initiative

The challenge

More than 2 billion people depend on smallholder farms and about 1.4 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. Without the biological diversity of crops and trees, rural families struggle to adapt to changing climates and markets, and cannot meet their nutrition and livelihood needs. Rural communities manage and maintain these resources for immediate use. By doing so, they also adapt and improve them for the benefit of broader society and future generations.

Our research solutions

This Bioversity International Initiative studies how to curb the loss of crop and tree biodiversity, and support systems that contribute to more diversity through:

Strategies, management and trait identification

This area of work encompasses the design of global and national strategies for the conservation of
priority crop genetic resources, and the preparation of action plans to implement these strategies.

Information services and seed supplies

Our researchers gather evidence with farmers, breeders, seed producers, extension agents and natural resource managers about how seed systems function and how to ensure they deliver varieties and species with traits farmers need.

Policies, institutions and monitoring

We research how policies affect the sharing and conservation of crop and tree diversity and identify incentives for farmers and natural resource managers to conserve, share and use genetic resources.

Examples of our research

Fruit tree diversity in Central Asia

One of many apricot varieties that grown in Tajikistan.  Credit: Bioversity International/C.Zanzanaini

Bioversity International is promoting the conservation of biodiversity in fruit trees, such as apple, apricot, almond, pistachio and walnut in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Since 2006, Bioversity International has been helping to conserve the wild relatives of native fruit crop species, improve farmers’ access to germplasm, land and water resources, and explore ways in which farmers who conserve these resources can share the benefits derived from their use.


  • From 2006 to 2011, the project trained around 1,500 farmers in soil, water and crop management practices. All of this has led to better produce, market linkages and the establishment of farmer associations that have improved local incomes and livelihoods.
  • Over 50 fruit tree nurseries have been established to date, producing more than 1.5 million seedlings annually of traditional varieties of apple, grape, pomegranate and other fruit and nut trees.

Amending national policy in Nepal

Seed bank managers at Jogimara Community Seed Bank, Dhading, Nepal. Credit:  Bioversity International/R.Vernooy

Bioversity International’s ‘Genetic Resources Policy Initiative’ is helping to strengthen the capacity of national partners in eight countries – Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Nepal, Rwanda and Uganda – to combine climate data, geographic information and data on crop suitability, to identify potentially adapted genetic resources from genebank collections around the world.

These activities provide a pretext for the same countries to explore institutional mechanisms to participate in the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Through the multilateral system, the 130 member states of the Treaty have pledged to pool and share the genetic diversity of a range of crops and forages for the purposes of conservation, plant breeding and training.


In 2013, our Nepalese partners started to create the legal space for the multilateral system, by submitting proposals to amend the National Agrobiodiversity Policy and the National Biodiversity
Strategy and Action Plan.