Seeds without borders

  • 27th November 2015
  • by secretary


16-20th November 2015. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ILRI Campus. A week-long workshop co-organized by Bioversity International and the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, in cooperation with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the African Union, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and the Japan Biodiversity Fund.

11 African countries gathered to implement seed sharing and use, to adapt to climate change, ensure food security and alleviate poverty. Interdisciplinary teams from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda spent the week working together to set their country roadmaps for embedding the sustainable use of plant genetic resources into the heart of national development plans.
Two international agreements govern how countries exchange seeds beyond their borders – the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) and the Nagoya Protocol. But to implement these agreements at the country level is not always straightforward as Michael Halewood, Bioversity International, explains:
Addis Ababa Ethiopia ILRI Campus“What we saw last week is the importance of bringing people together from different focal areas of responsibility that do not normally work together. For example, focal points from the agricultural and the environment sector sat together with their finance and planning, GEF* and climate change focal points, to develop national roadmaps to address to address climate change adaptation, access and benefit-sharing associated with genetic resources. This is significant. If countries are to make the most out of the biological diversity that they have at their disposal, and that they can get from other places, they’ve got to implement these agreements together.”

“It is really important for African countries to think through how to bring access and benefit-sharing (ABS) into the national implementation processes in a coherent way. Since the beginnings of agriculture farmers and local communities have exchanged their seeds to improve and diversify crops they grow to adapt to changing conditions. These days, we are all faced with new environmental challenges, such as increased flooding, heat and drought – and that is why everyone needs crop diversity: to be able to maintain food security for everyone.” Andreas Drews, ABS Capacity Development Initiative

As part of the week’s activities, the participants were invited to attend the African Union Commission (AU) to discuss the opportunities and constraints of implementing the two agreements.