© FAO/ Alessandra Benedetti

Seeds, Diversity and Development


Agricultural biodiversity is a vital resource for the entire global community,  providing a wide set of goods and services to current as well as future generations. Crop Genetic Resources (CGR) are a key component of agricultural biodiversity; and sustainable utilization of these resources is a main objective of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under these international agreements, signatory governments have committed to promoting the sustainable utilization of CGRs. This will require a policy framework that supports sustainable agricultural development, as well as the conservation of genetic resources. As yet, little practical guidance on how to achieve this objective is available. 

The Agricultural and Development Economics Division (ESA) at FAO is conducting applied economics research that attempts to fill this gap, providing information to assist in the development of policies that facilitate the sustainable use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). The programme consists of applied economics research on how seed systems affect the decisions farmers make about which crops and varieties to plant – in other words the on-farm utilization of crop genetic resources. It was funded by the FAO Netherlands Partnership Programme, the FAO Norway Partnership Programme and the FAO Regular Programme and implemented in collaboration with the Plant Production and Protection Division of FAO (AGP).

The ESA research programme includes analysis of both formal and informal seed systems, with particular focus on how they make CGRs available and facilitate farm level access to these. Applied research has been conducted under this programme since 2000, with a set of distinct projects.