National Biodiversity Centre, Bhutan



Importance of PGRFA

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) are crucial in feeding the world’s increasing population. They are the raw materials that farmers and plant breeders use to improve the quality and productivity of crops. The sustainable use of plant genetic resources is vital for national agricultural development because they are required to increase in agricultural productivity and sustainability; thereby contributing to enhanced global food security and reducing poverty. FAO and its member countries are implementing the GPA-PGRFA with its aim to achieve the target called upon by the World Food Summit to reduce by half the number of chronically undernourished people on the Earth by the year 2015. The conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA are critical for fulfilling the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml).

What is the Global Plan of Action?

The Global Plan of Action (GPA) for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is a set of recommendations and activities which grows logically out of the Report on the State of the World’s PGRFA.

The fourth FAO International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources held in Leipzig, Germany, formally adopted the Global Plan of Action on 23 June 1996 and, with it, a Leipzig Declaration that affirmed government-level commitment to implementing the Global Plan of Action in the context of national efforts to strengthen world food security.

Subsequently the Global Plan of Action has been endorsed by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and by Heads of State and Government at the World Food Summit. Furthermore it was incorporated into the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (http://www.itpgrfa.net) as a supporting component.

The Global Plan of Action is intended as a framework, guide and catalyst for action at community, national, regional and international levels. It seeks to create an efficient system for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources, through better cooperation, coordination and planning and through the strengthening of capacities.

The Global Plan of Action consists of 20 inter-related priority activities organized into four groups: In Situ Conservation and Development, Ex Situ Conservation, Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources, and Institutions and Capacity Building.

The Plan's main objectives are to:

(i) ensure the conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) as a basis for food security,

(ii) promote sustainable utilization of PGRFA in order to foster development and to reduce hunger and poverty,

(iii) promote a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of PGRFA,

(iv) assist countries and institutions responsible for conserving and using PGRFA to identify priorities for action, and

(v) strengthen national, regional and international programmes for the conservation and utilization of PGRFA, including education and training.

What is the NISM-GPA?

Monitoring the implementation of the Global Plan of Action and its related activities is essential for establishing priorities, developing future plans and for effectively using the financial resources available both at national and international levels for implementing the GPA. Moreover, policy makers, development agencies, researchers, and many other key-players dealing with PGRFA need precise and reliable information for decision making in addressing gaps and exploiting opportunities. Likewise, efficient mechanisms are needed to exchange information derived from PGRFA research and development at national, regional, and international levels.

The National Information Sharing Mechanism (NISM) developed by FAO in collaboration with Bioversity International (erstwhile IPGRI) is one such tool for transparent and effective monitoring of the implementation of GPA for PGRFA.

The main objectives of the National Information Sharing Mechanism are to:

• Improve the ability of countries to make decisions about PGRFA including establishing objectives, defining needs and allocating resources;

• Build stronger partnerships among Stakeholders in PGRFA management within each country;

• Increase understanding by Stakeholders in each country about the status of their PGRFA;

• Increase the ability of countries to monitor changes in PGRFA over time;

• Improve the quality of information about PGRFA status and dynamics;

• Improve the access to and sharing of information about PGRFA on national, regional and global levels; and

• Enhance the capacity of countries to meet international reporting obligations (GPA, Second Report on the State of the World’s PGRFA, CBD, etc).

Core elements of the mechanism are (i) an agreed list of indicators for monitoring the implementation of all GPA priority activity areas at country level; (ii) a questionnaire, which is based on such indicators; and (iii) a computer application, which has been developed to facilitate and simplify data recording, processing, analysis and sharing of the information addressed by the questionnaire.

Operational aspect of NISM-GPA in Bhutan

The National Bio-diversity Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest is the National Focal Point for the Mechanism in Bhutan. The focal point’s role is to co-ordinate the participation of other National Stakeholders in the country in developing the NISM. Therefore, the ownership of the data and information provided in the NISM lies with the individual stakeholder who provided the data. All the information compiled under the , can be accessed through this web site. Other countries’ Mechanism including the can be accessed in several languages from the World Information Sharing Mechanism (www.pgrfa.org).