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Seeds without Borders

Photo credit: Biodiversity International

 

Seeds without borders: Using and sharing plant genetic diversity to adapt to climate change in Africa

11 African countries gathered last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to implement seed sharing and use to adapt to climate change, ensure food security and alleviate poverty.

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.”

No single country has all the genetic resources it needs to adapt to global challenges of climate change, food security and poverty alleviation – the reason that 11 African country teams  met last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were finding ways to work together to implement two international agreements to conserve and exchange plant genetic resources with each other and with the rest of the world, and share related benefits.

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.

This is a critical and timely issue in the lead-up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Paris, France at the beginning of December – The International Panel on Climate Change predicts that agricultural production is set to decline, with yields of major crops in Africa declining by up to 8% . This means that alternative varieties or replacement crops that can grow in the changing climatic conditions are urgently need to be available to farmers.

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:

Read the full article: Biodiversity International

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.