As a tribute to the International Year of Family Farming, we present to you a publication about agriculture in Papua New Guinea and the work that Bioversity International and partners are doing there through the 'Seeds for Needs' initiative, told through the voices of farmers and the family members who help them cultivate the land.
Papua New Guinea is a country with an amazing amount of both wild and agricultural biodiversity, with over 200 different crop species, many of which are native to the area. Around 70% of its population relies on agriculture, many of whom are semi-subsistent farmers. Already a victim of the El Niño Southern Oscillation - a weather phenomenon that causes extreme changes to weather patterns every few years - scientists predict that climate change will only increase the frequency and intensity of future occurrences.
To help manage risks and cope with increasing weather unpredictability, the 'Seeds for Needs' initiative introduces agricultural biodiversity as a way for farmers to increase their options when faced with changing needs. Working with national genebanks, researchers and farmers, we first identify an important local crop, in this case, sweet potato and taro, and then use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to see which varieties of these crops will work well under future climate scenarios. The selection is then evaluated by farmers on their own land, so that they can experience first-hand how these different varieties perform in terms of taste, yield, drought-resistance and other traits. This way, farmers not only learn about more varieties that could be useful to them, but also help their strengthen their seed systems by sharing these varieties with their friends and neighbours.
Learn more from the farmers themselves in 'Seeds for Needs - Papua New Guinea'.
The 'Seeds for Needs' initiative contributes to the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).