International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Fourth Cycle

Strengthening indigenous communities of Cotacachi - Ecuador in conservation and use of plant genetic resource for food and agriculture as a mechanism for fair and equitable benefit-sharing
Where will we work?
The canton of Cotacachi in the Ecuadorian Andes mountains is an important centre of origin of beans and potatoes, and a centre of diversification of maize. Family farming, mostly led by women, constitutes the main source of food and income in the area, but is very vulnerable to climate change. Moreover, high rates of poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity characterize many communities. This Benefit-sharing project will address the loss of native crop diversity and build community resilience in Cotocachi.

What will we do?
  • Morphological and agronomic characterization of accessions of maize, bean and potato from the national germplasm bank;
  • Identify locally adapted materials with high yield potential and tolerance to abiotic stresses;
  • Quality seed production by seed farmers connected to community seed banks;
  • Diversify family farms by re-introducing the most adapted varieties;
  • Promote local varieties for subsistence and household consumption;
  • Strengthen peasant micro-enterprises and add value to native crops through processing;
  • Facilitate access to native seeds through the organisation of seed and gastronomic fairs;
  • Establish of community seed banks and bio-knowledge centres;
  • Provide training of farmers, researchers, extension agents, national focal points, government officials and technicians in conservation and sustainable use of crop genetic resources, as well as to junior scientists in Treaty implementation;
  • Develop tools to facilitate the management and dissemination of information on conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity.

What is expected to be achieved?
The project will support farmers to sustainably use and conserve their agrobidiversity. Two bio-knowledge centres will be established to facilitate access to locally adapted seeds, and 30 farmers will be trained as seed producers. The project will organise three seed exchange fairs for the restitution of seeds to farmers. 500 farms will be diversified to improve household food security as well as create new opportunities for commercialization. The management of a farmers’ market for sale of local produce will be strengthened and three gastronomic fairs will promote local varieties from diversified smallholder farms.
The project will morphologically characterize 62 varieties of three crops (12 of maize, 40 of bean and 10 of potato). Moreover, it will strengthen the information systems of three genetic resource institutions by training 100 technicians in information systems, management and policies of agrobiodiversity. These results will improve food and nutritional security, family income and the conservation of crop diversity.

Who will benefit?
The project will directly benefit the population of 45 indigenous communities in the Cotacachi canton, including 1,500 farmers, 30 seed farmers, and 600 women from the central women's committee who will be involved in the seed and gastronomy fairs. Moreover, 200 technicians and institution leaders, as well as 25 junior scientists will benefit from training and capacity building. What is more, 10,000 inhabitants of the city of Cotacachi will benefit through access to diversified food products from smallholder farms. A further 5,000 farmers of other communities of the canton will benefit indirectly from this agrobiodiversity conservation process which is expected to influence public policy in Cotacachi more widely.
Frijol, Maíz, Potato
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Target Countries: Ecuador
Implementing institution: Unión de Organizaciones Campesinas e Indígenas de Cotacachi - UNORCAC

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