Agrobiodiversity conservation must build upon and strengthen
the acknowledged traditional role of women as conservators of knowledge and
genetic resources, especially in the context of livelihood uncertainty due to
rural-urban migration and greater responsibility of women in small farms. These
are suggestive of potential opportunities for supporting and strengthening the
role of rural women in agrobiodiversity conservation.
A. Mechanisms for institutional partnerships
Agrobiodiversity conservation must establish institutional
partnerships that work both in the field and at policy level.
- Local institutional commitment is vital for collaboration and coordination
of activities. This will also ensure sustainability of the programmes even
when the original implementers are no longer working in the area. Likewise,
finding experts and local collaborators from the region or project area who
can work with the people and who understand the socioeconomic and cultural
context makes the programme implementation more effective.
- Recognize local capacity, and help train or harness skills for programme
involvement. Research and extension activities should enable and empower the
- Establish a link from the community to the NGOs, local governments and
other institutions by building the peoples negotiation and language
skills, and organize forums as venues for voicing out the needs and problems
of the communities.
- At the community level, peoples organizations need mediators to help
source and administer funds for agrobiodiversity activities. Counter-parting
or sharing of funds and resources should be encouraged to discourage a dole-out
mentality among local communities, whilst nurturing a sense of ownership of
the project instead. To effectively run projects, flexibility in budgeting
is needed. Donor policies should be discussed and strong advocacy for the
national governments allocation for agrobiodiversity conservation programmes
should be undertaken.
- Multisectoral partnerships are encouraged, but the terms and conditions
should provide a clear path to avoid misunderstandings. These partnerships
should be forged between and among institutions, NGOs, local government agencies,
researchers, people or communities and scientists.
B. Research, development and extension
- Recognize, reward and support the traditional agrobiodiversity conservation
activities of women and men through national legislation; evolve economic
incentives for promoting agrobiodiversity conservation.
- Enhance access to local seed resources through community seed banks.
- Chronicle the community-level agrobiodiversity by setting up registers
and inventories through partnership with local communities, integrating gender
- Identify alternative livelihood enterprises and technologies based on traditional
knowledge and practices for women and youth.
- Enhance womens access to information and technology by empowering
- Develop ethical standards for doing research and development work, especially
in culturally sensitive areas.
- Support in-situ sustainable livelihood for women, as well as for the young
- Promote agrobiodiversity conservation through community-based education
for the youth.
- Enhance gender equity in terms of access to land, genetic resources and
- Knowledge is a social construct encoded in the culture and language of
each ethnic group. Hence, research and action require a holistic approach
for understanding and reinforcing the spiritual and practical values of indigenous
practices dealing with the conservation of agrobiodiversity.
- Support farmers networks in conducting seed fairs, knowledge and
seed/planting material exchanges and cross visits.
- Promote revival of rituals and cultural festivals that encourage agrobiodiversity
- Adopt ecosystem-based R&D approaches that emphasize agrobiodiversity
management of crops, trees, fish and livestock. This is in keeping with the
framework set by the Convention on Biodiversity, which encourages conservation,
sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits.
- Integrate into R&D efforts the conservation and management of the rich
cultural heritage and diversity. Opportunities need to be provided especially
for those in cultural regions dominated by indigenous people and ethnic minorities.
C. Policy development
- Conduct policy analysis for promoting agrobiodiversity initiatives.
- Support location-specific nutrition and food diversity efforts in achieving
human nutrition and conservation promotion goals.
- Establish biosafety regulations to protect agrobiodiversity from gene contamination
from genetically modified organisms.
- Recognize traditional cultivars by incorporating womens knowledge
in formal seed laws.
- Support grassroots-level informal institutions to institutionalize the
- Establish an incentive structure, i.e. reducing tax levels to promote agrobiodiversity
or green products.
- Evolve gender-sensitive legislation to protect farmers rights in
addition to breeders rights.
D. Networking and capacity building
- Conduct information, education and communication campaigns on biopiracy
and other related issues for local communities, NGOs and research institutions.
- Support networking with local institutions and conducting regular training
and capacity-building programmes on agrobiodiversity conservation.
- Organize policymakers workshops on issues related to agrobiodiversity
- Develop and pilot-test models of benefit-sharing mechanisms for traditional
cultivars/farmer-conserved and -developed varieties.
E. Comments from resource persons
The presentation of recommendations was followed by a plenary
discussion during which participants reacted to and proposed suggestions for
their finalization and unanimous adoption as consultation output. Providing
assistance to this process were two resource persons, namely Arma Bertuso (Ms),
a specialist in gender and genetic resources conservation issues from SEARICE;
and Arnold Garcia, head of the Natural Resource Management Programme of
The following are the resource persons summarized
comments to the groups synthesis and recommendations:
- The presentation is extensive and comprehensive and touches on the significant
issues and problems of agrobiodiversity conservation and the role of women.
- Farmers use of high-yielding varieties illustrates a good balance
between agrobiodiversity conservation and food security considerations. In
countries like Myanmar, addressing the pressing need to produce more food
for a starving population while conserving agrobiodiversity promotes a more
sustainable development. Technologies to generate more livelihood options
should be provided, including infrastructure and other support services such
as production loans.
- Womens contribution to agrobiodiversity conservation must be recognized.
Emphasis on gender differentiation and on the contribution of different age
groups should not be overlooked as far as community agrobiodiversity conservation
efforts are concerned.
- In terms of methods in agrobiodiversity conservation, womens roles
in major and minor crops must be given equal focus in a situational analysis.
- Community organizing for agrobiodiversity conservation should involve households
comprised of women, men and children.
- More initiatives on women in participatory plant breeding should be carried
out in all participating countries.
- In the conduct of research, institutional partnerships should strengthen
- Researchers should not only have the skills and knowledge in agrobiodiversity
conservation, but also internalize gender concerns and be able to integrate
them into their work.