Agrobiodiversity in a Changing Climate


The Summer school on Agrobiodiversity in a Changing Climate opened on Monday 26 at FAO, Headquarters in Rome. The course focuses on the importance of biodiversity in agriculture, with particular attention to its role in enhancing resilience and adaptability of cropping and farming systems to climate change. The two week course’s aim is to provide practitioners with the necessary tools, knowledge and understanding to enhance productivity and improve marketing strategies in sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.

“We are very happy to be holding with course in collaboration with the Sapienza University of Rome and Bioversity International and bring together the expertise of the different partners,” said Giorgio Grussu, Mountain Partnership Secretariat officer. “We would like this to become an annual course of the Mountain Partnership,” he added.

“The aim of this course is to fill an important gap among researchers, policy makers and practitioners,” specified Fabio Attorre, Professor of the Sapienza University. “During the first week we present the scientific basis and importance of biodiversity in agriculture and the role of farmers in using it sustainably. In the second week, we will present case studies, for example from the Mountain Partnership, as well as on organic farming and transportation of crops. In this way, we hope the students can bring back some new ideas to be applied at home.”

The training includes joint lectures by speakers from various national and international organizations and two field trips to nearby farms, which provide hands-on experience on relevant practices.

Lecturers illustrate principles and practices for gathering agro-biodiversity data through either participatory diagnostic and empirical approaches, and for their utilization to develop management approaches that improve resilience and adaptability.

One of the world’s greatest challenges is to secure access for all to adequate supplies of food that is healthy, safe, and of high quality, and to do so in an environmentally sustainable manner. To achieve the necessary improvements, a sustainable management of natural capital must be at the forefront of the major goals of food production systems.

Resilient environments, sustainable production practices and the protection of agrobiodiversity can serve as avenues to improve dietary diversity and quality. They in turn generate income for sustainable smallholder farmers, and help the restoration and preservation of ecosystem.

Mountain farmers in particular are preserving many of the rarest varieties of cultivars in functioning biodiverse agro-ecosystems. Yet the harshness of the environment as well as the effects of climate change increasingly pressures the mountain communities to modify their traditional approaches to agriculture.

Taking into account agrobiodiversity in food systems means bringing together various sectors of science, agriculture and economy to propose new strategies of food production that can be implemented in a changing environment. 

20 participants from 12 countries are attending the course many of which Mountain Partnership members. The summer school was organized by Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Environmental Biology; Bioversity International; Mountain Partnership Secretariat. With the technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


Photo by Roberto Cenciarelli 

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