Seed, agrobiodiversity and climate change

Summary

Across Africa, erratic and less predictable rainfall, higher temperatures, heat spells, and recurring droughts are predicted to become more frequent. As a result of these irregularities and uncertainties, farmers can no longer rely on crops and crop varieties that used to do well, with negative impacts on food and nutrition security and the capacity of farmers to withstand shocks.

In recent years, a number of international initiatives have piloted  novel strategies and configurations of actors to work together to mobilise agrobiodiversity for climate change adaptation. These efforts are strengthening national seed sectors to use crop diversity for sustainable agricultural development and resilience.

In the coming years, through a number of different programs and projects these pilots will be scaled putting ‘agrobiodiversity and seed’ at the heart of climate change adaptation. However, there are few mechanisms that compile, compare and synthesize results and lessons learned in the Eastern and Southern Africa sub-regions.

This thematic action proposal will coordinate a number of scaling review studies and develop a seed information portal for knowledge sharing. It will facilitate collaboration and exchange of germplasm and related knowledge, policy discussion and future program development. 

Action learning questions

The main question is what effective scaling strategies are to improve access to and availability of a wide gene pool of crop genetic resources for a diverse range of users and agro-ecologies as a means to adapt to climate change.

Different sub-questions are:

  1. What are the gender responsive crop development strategies that can be scaled to ensure that seed systems offer a diversity of crops and crop varieties that allow farmers and their communities to respond timely and effectively to climate change? How do these strategies compare in terms of costs and benefits?
  2. What are innovative institutional arrangements between key seed sector players such as national governments, international, regional and national gene banks, breeding programmes, community seedbanks, seed producer groups and organized farmers, private seed companies, and international organizations (e.g. CGIAR) for delivering and disseminating a wide range of diversity for climate change adaptation?
  3. What can be done to strengthen the networking of organized farmers, through their community seedbanks, as a means of (women) empowerment and advocacy?
  4. What policy initiatives do best support the scaling of resilient seed system strategies responsive to climate change?

Outcomes

Outcome 1: Effective agrobiodiversity for climate change adaptation practices, strategies and protocols that work at scale identified and promoted

Outcome 2: Mechanisms identified to strengthen organized farmers, through their community seedbanks, as actors with a strong voice in seed sector development

Outcome 3: Innovative and effective forms of collaboration among African seed sector stakeholders identified and further promoted

Outcome 4: Supportive scaling policies identified and supported