Apply for Grow Summer School 2020


Registration for the GROW Summer School, Agrobiodiversity in a Changing Climate” is now open. The summer school will be held online from 15 – 25 September 2020.

One of the worlds greatest challenges is to secure access for all to adequate supplies of food that is healthy, safe and high quality, and to do so in an environmentally sustainable manner. To make the necessary improvements, sustainable management of natural capital must be at the forefront of the major goals of food production systems. Resilient environments, sustainable production practices and protection of agrobiodiversity can serve as avenues to improve dietary diversity and quality and, in turn, generate income for sustainable smallholder farmers, while aiding in the restoration and preservation of the ecosystem.

The reduced variety of crops on which commercial farming is based creates a reduced capacity for agriculture to adapt to environmental changes and stresses. The loss or lack of adaptive capacity in modern, commercial agriculture is a cause for concern in relation to the expected impacts of climate change. This is particularly relevant to mountain areas. Mountain farmers are preserving many of the rarest varieties of cultivars in functioning biodiverse agro-ecosystems, but the harshness of the environment and the effects of climate change increasingly pressure mountain communities to modify their traditional approaches to agriculture.

Taking into account agrobiodiversity in food systems means bringing together the sectors of science, agriculture and economy to propose new strategies of food production that can be implemented in a changing environment, proposing diversified crops and practices as a resource and increased variety as a strength in agro-ecosystems. In addition to agricultural and genetic aspects, the agrobiodiversity discussion focuses on economic and social issues such as identifying markets for biological products, developing adequate value chains and marketing strategies, and preserving local crops.

It is essential to enable community-driven food systems that provide the best possible outcomes for producers and consumers. In this model, producers and consumers are connected through short, transparent, direct value chains.

Producers are incentivized to develop or conserve quality-based production models that are then rewarded with a price premium by consumers. Conversely, consumers are able to access culturally appropriate, safe, nutritious food at affordable prices.

The course will focus on the importance of biodiversity in agriculture, with particular focus on biodiversitys role in enhancing cropping and farming systems’ resilience and adaptability to climate change. Lectures will illustrate principles and practices for gathering agrobiodiversity data through either participatory diagnostic or empirical approaches, and for their utilization to develop management approaches that improve resilience and adaptability.

The aim of the course is to equip participants with the necessary tools, knowledge and understanding to enhance productivity and improve marketing strategies in sustainable and resilient agricultural systems. The training will include lectures by speakers from various national and international organizations.

This year, for the first time, all applicants to the GROW Summer School 2020 will have the opportunity to participate in the innovation contest Improving smallholders’ livelihoods through agrobiodiversity and organic solutions” by submitting their innovative ideas in response to the theme: How would YOU improve smallholders' livelihoods through agrobiodiversity and organic solutions, especially in such fragile ecosystems as mountains and islands?”

The Summer School is organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, in collaboration with Sapienza University of Rome and the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Technical support provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Sponsors and partners of the summer school include: the Italian Development Cooperation, NaturaSì, Slow Food and IFOAM-Organics International and Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR). 

Application deadline: 9 August

Learn more 

Read the programme

Apply here 

Photo from ©FAO/Roberto_Cenciarelli

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