“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
When it comes to choosing how much crop diversity to plant, it seems the type of farmer matters as much as the type of crop. This study sets out to understand what drives farmers' choices across their entire crop portfolio and also if, and how, this varies between different farmers.
Few countries boast a trove of agricultural biodiversity richer than that of Papua New Guinea. With over 200 different crop species, Papua New Guinea is a mountainous tropical half-island north of Australia facing massive development challenges – 85% of the population subsists on agriculture.
Agricultural biodiversity provides options to make diets healthier and food production systems more resilient. The role of farmers in conserving agricultural biodiversity by cultivating diverse plants on their farms is fundamental in achieving sustainable food systems that can provide both food and income in the years ahead.
In Papua New Guinea, as elsewhere, the number and types of crops cultivated by each farmer varies. Some grow just one or two species, often including just one variety of their main staple, for example, sweet potato or taro, while others grow more than 40 different crops, including numerous species and varieties. Cash-crops are also on the increase, particularly for Arabica coffee which makes an important contribution to household incomes.
Several factors influence what farmers grow, including environmental factors such as changing climates and weather patterns, and evolving cultural preferences, such as foods for traditional dishes and emerging market trends.
This new study set out to dig deeper: to understand what drives farmers’ choices across their entire crop portfolio and also if and how this varies between different farmers.
Systematically understanding farmer motivations for why they grow what they grow is challenging, as they rarely articulate to others or even to themselves how their choices are made. This meant that the methodology adopted by researchers, in this case Q methodology, needed to assist farmers to systematically think through why they choose to plant crop diversity, or not. The Q methodology led farmers to rank a series of statements; the ranking was then analyzed to sort farmers into five different opinion groupings, based on their responses:
While still seeing their gardens as primarily a source of their own food, members of this group prioritize the economic value of crops more than other groups. Interestingly, they do not see a diverse crop portfolio as buffering the impacts of changing market trends, suggesting a willingness to specialize in a narrower range of crops. Indeed, this group has lower than average crop diversity.
This group is mainly driven to grow diverse crops for consumption, with health value and ease of cooking preparation heavily influencing their choices. They value conserving crop diversity to have more options in the future and are not readily willing to discard older varieties as new ones come along. However, pragmatists are also a little contradictory: they are more indifferent than other groups to maintaining traditional crops. This apparent contradiction seems to stem from a general pragmatic approach to farming and recognition of resource constraints. This group tended to have slightly higher crop diversity than other groups.
- Proud Exhibitionists
These farmers above all the other groups value crop aesthetics, which they consider as reflecting their skills as gardeners. They are not particularly bothered by discarding old varieties, instead focusing on ‘high status’ crops that can still meet traditional needs. For example, one farmer commented on his pride in cultivating large yams, which has long been a point of pride in highland Papua New Guinea—but he was referring to recently introduced African yams, not old, prized native varieties.
- Novelty Seekers
This group is always seeking new crops and does not place much value on maintaining old varieties for future options. They experiment more readily than other groups and do not see plot size as a constraint, even if their landholdings are smaller than average. They are interested in what other farmers grow, from a perspective of discovering new crops rather than status comparisons. Crop choices are dynamic for this group.
- Secondary Farmers
This group differs from the others in that crops are not the farmers’ primary focus in terms of income. They cultivate crops for home consumption but pay little attention to aesthetics or novelty. Unlike other groups, they do not maintain some crops for use in times of weather stress. They also do not place much weight on crop diversity as a status symbol, and are only slightly concerned about conserving and maintaining traditional varieties for future use.
The study found that the answer is complex, dependent on the farmer and how he or she chooses to weigh diverse needs amid changing economic and social conditions. The divergence in farmer viewpoints uncovered here suggests a need for caution when making wide judgements about farmers’ views, whether in policy or research.
The innovative application of Q Methodology to agrobiodiversity conservation and use issues suggests potential value in its wider use in the design and implementation of programmes related to crop diversity conservation and to promote new crop varieties in regions undergoing rapid transformation. For example, such a strategy in Papua New Guinea could include targeting Pragmatist Farmers for conservation initiatives and Novelty Seekers for spreading new varieties.
Across the typologies, there is considerable commonality and shared values, such as the centrality of consumption-related traits. There are also overlapping motivations of pursuing a livelihood and maintaining tradition, which can exist simultaneously within the same individual.
'Feeding the Household, Growing the Business or Just Showing Off? Farmers’ Motivations for Crop Diversity Choices in Papua New Guinea'
This study was carried out by Bioversity International working in partnership with the University of Cambridge in the UK, the Basque Centre for Climate Change and the Basque Science Foundation in Spain and the Papua New Guinea National Agricultural Research Institute.
Citation: Nordhagena, S.; Pascual, U.; Drucker, A.G. (2017) Feeding the household, growing the business, or just showing off? Farmers’ motivations for crop diversity choices in Papua New Guinea. Ecological Economics Vol. 137, p. 99–109 ISSN: 0921-8009; http://hdl.handle.net/10568/81136
Pragmatists, marketers, exhibitionists & novelty seekers. A new study reveals that when it comes to choosing how much #cropdiversity to plant, the type of farmer matters as much as the type of crops
What drives farmers to plant #cropdiversity? A study of farmers in #PapuaNewGuinea shows farmer type is a major factor in planting decisions @CGIARClimate