Seed, Agrobiodiversity and climate change

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Ronnie Vernooy
Ronnie Vernooy

Key challenge

Climate change is threatening the food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers globally. In many parts of the world, cropping seasons and growing cycles are changing. Farmers have to reinvent appropriate sowing and planting times due to changing beginning dates and length of the rainy season(s). As a dramatic result of all these changes, irregularities and uncertainties, farmers can no longer rely on crops and crop varieties that used to do well. Climate change will very likely lead to loss in agro-biodiversity and reduce the capacity of farmers to withstand shocks and build up resilience. Loss of agrobiodiversity is already occurring in many regions of the world, for example, due to the increase of monocultures.

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Action learning questions

  1. What are effective strategies to ensure that seed systems offer a diversity of crops and crop varieties that allow farmers and their communities to respond to climate change?
  2. What are innovative institutional arrangements between key players, e.g. CGIAR centers, regional and national gene banks, breeding programs, community seed banks, seed producers and farmers that deliver and disseminate a wide range of diversity for climate change adaptation? How could sub-regional collaboration and learning (and the creation of sub-regional learning hubs as “people and seeds” connectors) contribute to the implementation of such strategies?
  3. What are good examples of policy initiatives in support of resilient seed systems responsive to climate change? What can be learned from these examples?
  4. Where, when and how does the utilization of agricultural biodiversity provide cost-effective options for climate change adaptation?

Activities and outcomes

This action learning project will document, monitor and evaluate new forms of collaboration and scaling among African stakeholders to increase the use of agrobiodiversity for climate change adaptation, identify effective strategies to deliver resilient crops and varieties at community level, review good practice policies and identification of lessons learned and develop a portal for information and knowledge sharing.

By the end of the action learning project we desire to see improved access to and availability of a wide gene pool of crop genetic resources for a diverse range of users and agro-ecologies. Another desired change is to have more effective forms of collaboration and scaling, and protocols, strategies and plans for the effective management of agrobiodiversity climate change adaptation, including at the sub-regional level.