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Genetic resources policies and institutions have an impact on the sustainable use and conservation of agricultural and forest biodiversity. They affect how national governments, research organizations, companies and farmers conserve and manage agricultural biodiversity, and how some of its components, like genetic resources, are made available and exchanged between different users.

Bioversity International's research approach

Research into the  effects of institutions and policies is essential to identify mechanisms that help farmers make the most out of crop diversity, and to maintain a dynamic flow of genetic resources among a range of users – breeders, researchers and farmers – for climate change adaptation and the sustainable intensification of agricultural production systems.

Using participatory research methods, Bioversity International works to strengthen the capacity of our partners to conduct policy research, and to proactively engage in policy development processes by developing science-based technical contributions for consideration by policymakers from local to global levels.

Our work has a direct effect and application for: farming communities; community, national and international genebanks; local, national and international policymakers; non-governmental organizations; and researchers from national and international organizations.

Research highlights

Decision-making tool helps countries adapt to climate change

Distilled from eight years of working with countries to implement the Plant Treaty, a new decision-making tool will help all countries craft suitable instruments to let them take full advantage of the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing.

 

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Helping policy catch up with science

When it comes to the use of plant diversity, science is way ahead of policy. Bioversity International took part in a deep analysis of the difficulties, to guide policy regime changes that will strengthen access and benefit sharing.

 

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Mutual implementation of the Plant Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol

With the increasing effects from climate change, the need to find and exchange crops and varieties that can grow in different climatic conditions is essential. In fact many major staple food crops are already experiencing significant climate-change related yield reductions – the International Panel on Climate Change predicts that agricultural production will decline by 2% every decade until 2050, with yields of major crops in Africa and South Asia declining by up to 8%.

Recent research shows that more than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originate from somewhere else.

At the international level, the majority of our work focuses on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. and the Convention on Biological Diversity's Nagoya Protocol - two international agreements on how countries exchange plant genetic resources.

Bioversity International is also heavily focused on working with national partners to find ways to implement both agreements in mutually supportive ways.

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Farmers' Crop Varieties and Farmers' Rights

Over the last 50 years there has been a growing appreciation of the important role that farmers play in the development and conservation of crop genetic diversity, and the contribution of that crop diversity to agro-ecosystem resilience and food security.  

This new book examines policies that aim to increase the share of benefits that farmers receive when others use the crop varieties they have developed and managed. 

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News

A pearl millet variety improved through participatory plant breeding. Chimukoko Farmer Field School, Zimbabwe. Credit: Bioversity International/R.Vernooy

A Resilient Seed Systems Handbook to support farmers adapt to climate change

Developed by a multidisciplinary team of Bioversity International researchers and research partners, the Resilient Seed Systems Handbook Second...

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Going against nature

In his latest blog, Juan Lucas Restrepo talks about the importance of identifying collective solutions to diversify our agriculture and thus fight...

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New Index outlines agrobiodiversity’s role in food system sustainability

The Agrobiodiversity Index is an innovative tool to calculate how well countries are conserving and using their agricultural biodiversity. The first...

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Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes

The recently released 'Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes' features Bioversity International's contributions to supporting...

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Finger millet is one of the crops covered under the Plant Treaty’s Multilateral System for Access and Benefit Sharing. Credit: Bioversity International/Y.Wachira

A decision-making tool for countries to implement the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit Sharing

Many countries seek assistance in developing the necessary institutional, legal, policy and administrative mechanisms to implement the Plant Treaty’s...

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How to develop and manage your own community seedbank

Ronnie Vernooy, Genetic Resources Policy Specialist, Bioversity International, reports on a new handbook for farmers who want to establish or...

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Ann Tutwiler, Director General, Bioversity International

Looking beyond national borders to adapt farming systems to climate change

As the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP23) draws to a close in Bonn, Ann Tutwiler explains how adapting farming systems to climate change may...

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Community seedbank workshop unites representatives from around the world

Earlier this fall, International Workshop on Community Seedbanks attracted a truly international and diverse crowd: almost 100 farmers, experts,...

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Farmers learn about different bean and maize varieties at a seed fair in Saraguro, Ecuador. Credit: Bioversity International/J.Coronel

A fresh look at crop seeds for healthy diets

As we get ready for World Food Day, researcher Jacob van Etten reminds us that seeds are a central piece of our food systems, as the vehicles that...

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Seed fair with smallholder farmers in Mutale, Limpopo Province, South Africa. This community has been earmarked by the government to set up a community seedbank. Credit: Bioversity International/R.Vernooy

Achieving complementarity between informal and formal seed systems

As a contribution to efforts towards achieving complementarity between the informal and formal seed systems, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research...

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CGIAR Partners

This work is carried out through the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets and Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, and supported by CGIAR Trust Fund donors.