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.
Policies for crop and tree diversity management
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2016, a special issue of Farming Matters was dedicated to making access and benefit sharing of genetic resources work for family farmers. It was published jointly by Bioversity International and ILEIA - the Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture.
This work is carried out through the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets and Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, supported by CGIAR Trust Fund donors.
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