Involved Countries: Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Uganda, Uzbekistan
Project Donor(s): Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Project Duration: 2013-2016
Project Partners: Bioversity International
Today many smallholders (smallholder farmers, small low-income family farmers) in developing countries have limited access to adequate plant diversity (seeds) needed to improve their resilience and response capacity to a number of livelihood problems such as food security. The international policy framework on plant genetic resources seeks to serve farmers’ wellbeing, but nevertheless the focus is largely on ex situ conservation and formal breeding and tends to ignore fundamental issues of the availability and use of crop diversity by smallholders. Smallholders often have distinct needs for a wider range of diversity adapted to their vulnerable ecosystems and for managing risks. In this regard they face specific constraints in availability, access, and distribution that are not covered by existing programmes and institutions. Seeds systems exist, however the formal seed sector is not able to provide seeds or other planting materials that meet the demands of smallholders in developing countries and even less for smallholders living in vulnerable ecosystems. Local seed systems (producers, networks, etc.) that are essential for smallholders to maintain their planting material and to guarantee household food security, are gradually losing ground due to the weakening of social institutions and structures at the local level that support and sustain local seed systems and accompanying informal quality control mechanisms.
Thus, there is an urgent need to reinforce diversified seed production and distribution and dissemination mechanisms as key connectors between international objectives and local results. This needs to be done in a way that allows seed systems to capture the adaptive and evolutionary capacity of plant genetic resources for smallholders in vulnerable ecosystems. Therefore, this project aims at reducing the vulnerability of smallholders through enhanced diversification of seed production and distribution systems, supported by revised and re-aligned policies that promote the availability and the adaptive capacity of diverse planting materials in the production system. Activities will be carried out in 5 different countries in Africa, South and Central Asia and South America: Burkina Faso, Uganda, Nepal, Uzbekistan and Bolivia. The project builds upon experience gained by Bioversity during the last 10 years of research and development partnerships in these and other countries and knowledge from programmes and projects related to on-farm use of plant diversity and ecosystem resilience, and secondly on the national adaptation and implementation of international legal frameworks, particularly the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resource for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).