Global study on Community Empowerment for in Situ Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Community Biodiversity Management (CBM) has been developed as a methodology to support and empower farmers as well as their local organizations for sustainably managing their biodiversity providing communities benefits at the environmental, social and economic level.

The main focus is on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), as a key component of biodiversity. Whereas most studies so far have addressed the technical, ecological and genetic aspects of conservation in situ and on-farm, the current study focuses on the contribution of CBM as a methodology to empowerment, for strengthening the scientific basis of CBM.

The proposed project analyzes the experiences in community management of agrobiodiversity in four countries which are known for playing a critical role in the global plant genetic resources (PGR) debate. The programme will work study sites in Ethiopia (EOSA), India (MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and Bioversity International), Nepal (LI-BIRD) and Brazil (EMBRAPA and the Federal University of Santa Catharina). All are considered internationally recognized leading organizations in the field of CBM. Each of the partners will provide one or more sites for the CBM study.

During the first phase of the programme a framework for analysing empowerment in the context of in situ conservation will be elaborated. In this phase the programme will focus on description, analysis and peer review of CBM practices of each study site, with specific focus on empowerment issues. On the basis of this analysis research and action plans with specific priority themes will be elaborated in a joint meeting.

The second phase of the programme will support the implementation of the studies. To facilitate experience sharing and shared learning, the global CBM study will set up a web-based platform. Additionally the study will facilitate South-South co-learning through an exchange/sandwich programme, in which researchers from the CBM sites will visit sites in other countries. Meetings of the CBM study programme concur with the yearly regional India-based PGR training (October 2009 and 2010) and the Wageningen-based PGR training (April 2010), during which students and researchers will join as trainees, and other team members will contribute to the training as resource persons/facilitators. Through the direct linkage between the Global CBM study and the Wageningen International PGR training programmes, experiences can be shared and shared learning can take place; at the same time the training programme curriculum will be enforced. The study will conclude with a seminar organized by Wageningen UR and partners. The studies will contribute to the development of a set of best practices to operationalize in situ conservation of PGRFA, and will contribute to publications and a book on the topic. Synthesis of the study results into a set of best practises will allow up-scaling of viable approaches and will feed the policy discussions at different levels in relation to the effectiveness of conservation practises.

The programme builds on existing partnerships of the Capacity Building and Institutional Change Programme (CD&IC) of Wageningen International and the Centre for Genetic Resources, The Netherlands (CGN), in capacity building programs addressing the sustainable management of PGR in the Netherlands, Brazil, Ethiopia and India with the above mentioned organizations.