© FAO/ Alessandra Benedetti


Agricultural biodiversity:

Agricultural biodiversity is a sub-set of general biodiversity including all cultivated varieties. Cultivated varieties can be broadly classified into “modern varieties” and “farmer’s or traditional varieties”. Modern varieties are the outcome of scientific breeding and are characterised by a high yield and a high degree of genetic uniformity. In contrast, farmer’s varieties (also known as landraces) are the product of breeding or selection carried out by farmers. They represent higher levels of genetic diversity and are therefore the focus of most conservation efforts. Agricultural biodiversity contributes to food security and livelihood security and underpins the development of all food production. It is the first link in the food chain, developed and safeguarded by farmers, livestock breeders, forest workers, fishermen and indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Farmer Field School:

The Farmer Field School (FFS) is a group-based learning process that has been used by a number of governments, NGOs and international agencies to promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM).The first FFS were designed and managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Indonesia in 1989 since when more than two million farmers across Asia have participated in this type of learning. The Farmer Field School brings together concepts and methods from agroecology, experiential education and community development. As a result, hundreds of thousands of rice farmers in countries such as China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam have been able to reduce the use of pesticides and improve the sustainability of crop yields. The FFS has produced other developmental benefits that are broadly described as ‘empowerment’: FFS alumni in a number of countries are involved in a wide-range of self-directed activities including research, training, marketing and advocacy.

Formal Seed sector:

The Formal Seed sector is an official or private control of seed monitored through the entire process of breeding, multiplication, processing and storage, leading to the final product: certification of seeds.

Food Insecurity:

A situation that exists when people lack secure  access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal  growth and development and an active and healthy life. It may be caused  by the unavailability of food, insufficient purchasing power,  inappropriate distribution, or inadequate use of food at the household  level. Food insecurity, poor conditions of health and sanitation, and  inappropriate care and feeding practices are the major causes of poor  nutritional status. Food insecurity may be chronic, seasonal or  transitory.

Food Security:

A situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Genetic Erosion: 

Genetic Erosion in Agricultural biodiversity and livestock biodiversity is the loss of genetic diversity, including the loss of individual genes, and the loss of particular combinants of genes (or gene complexes) such as those manifested in locally adapted landraces. The term genetic erosion is sometimes used in a narrow sense, such as for the loss of alleles or genes, as well as more broadly, referring to the loss of varieties or even species. The major driving forces behind genetic erosion in crops are: variety replacement, land clearing, overexploitation of species, population pressure, environmental degradation, overgrazing, policy and changing agricultural systems. The main factor, however, is the replacement of local varieties by high yielding or exotic varieties or species. A large number of varieties can also often be dramatically reduced when commercial varieties (including GMOs) are introduced into traditional farming systems. Many researchers believe that the main problem related to agro-ecosystem management is the general tendency towards genetic and ecological uniformity imposed by the development of modern agriculture.

Informal Seed sector:

The Informal Seed sectoris simply the farmers themselves that provide each other and themselves with seed for sowing. This seed may be cleaned manually, but is otherwise untreated and thus a potential carrier of various diseases. 


Landrace refers to domesticated animals or plants adapted to the natural and cultural environment in which they live (or originated) and, in some cases, work. They often develop naturally with minimal assistance or guidance from humans using traditional breeding methods. Landraces differ somewhat from what is commonly termed a breed, and usually possess more diverse phenotypes and genotypes. They often form the basis of more highly-bred formalised breeds. Sometimes a formalised breed retains the "landrace" name, despite no longer being a true landrace.

MDG (Millennium Development Goals):

The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that 189 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. The Millennium Development Goals derive from earlier "international development goals", and were officially established at the Millennium Summit in 2000, where 189 world leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration, from which the eight-goal action plan, the "Millennium Development Goals", was particularly promoted.

Transaction costs:

Transaction costs are the costs incurred in making an economic exchange. They are often subdivided into ex-ante and ex-post. The costs ex-ante includesearch or information costs (costs of obtaining information on the product, its traits and price as well as about trading partners), and negotiation costs (costs of negotiating and carrying out the transaction). The cost ex-post includes monitoring or enforcement costs (costs of ensuring that the terms agreed upon ex-ante are kept) (Hobbs, 1997).


Woreda (also spelled wereda) is an administrative division of Ethiopia (managed by a local government), equivalent to a district. Woredas are composed of a number of Kebele, or neighborhood associations, which are the smallest unit of local government in Ethiopia. Woredas are typically collected together into zones, which form a kilil (Regional administration); some woredas are not part of a zone, and are called Special Woredas, which function as autonomous entities (wikipedia, 2008).



The definitions of this glossary are taken from FAO-Fivims (Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems) and Wikipedia, in addition to those taken directly from our project documents.