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Toolbox for Sustainable Use of PGRFA



Diversity in plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) is essential to sustain food, nutrition and economic security. The recurrent development of new and diversified crops which can thrive in the more extreme, changeable and uncertain environmental conditions brought about by climate change depends on the continuous availability of a wide pool of plant genetic diversity.

To sustain this diversity, farmers and other crop maintainers that wish to diversify their own crops require an appropriate enabling environment, and adequate conservation management measures need to be implemented in situ (in protected areas and other natural or semi-natural sites) and in ex situ facilities. Further, appropriate procedures to enable access to in situ and ex situ managed plant materials for crop development within an equitable benefit-sharing framework need to be in place, efficient seed delivery systems that are sensitive to the needs of farmers and farming communities are required, and markets that are adaptable to supporting greater diversity of crop produce are called for.

The vision of an efficient, flexible, and progressive system of PGRFA use in all countries and internationally is at the heart of the International Treaty and is specifically addressed in Article 6, ‘Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources’. To achieve such a system demands appropriate supporting policies at national level and the necessary technical capacity and resources for effective implementation. 

About the Toolbox

Recognizing the need to increase and enhance activities relevant to the goals of Article 6, and to address specific constraints identified as negatively affecting the capacity of national and regional programmes for its effective implementation, the Governing Body of the Treaty requested the development of a toolbox to assist countries in designing and implementing measures to promote sustainable use. The needs of all stakeholders involved in different aspects of the global PGRFA use system have been gathered and documented through surveys and meetings and translated into an online system—the Toolbox for Sustainable Use of PGRFA. 

The Toolbox is for people seeking information or guidance on policies, strategies and activities that can promote and enhance the sustainable use of PGRFA, particularly at national and local levels. Users may come from a wide range of stakeholder groups, including those working in or associated with public research institutes and gene banks, government agencies, farmers’ associations, agro-NGOs, local and indigenous community enterprises, seed networks, educational establishments, international bodies, networks and services, private plant breeding companies, and the commercial seed and plant production industries, as well as independent plant breeders, farmers and seed producers. 

Using the Toolbox

The Toolbox has two primary components—web pages highlighting and summarizing key areas of relevance in promoting and enhancing the sustainable use of PGRFA, and a database facilitating access to a selection of resources to aid users in the development of sustainable use initiatives.

Resources are classified according to the relevant subject area(s) and specific subject categories as well as by the primary geographic area of relevance, language, publication date and format. Most resources are open access and freely available for download from the Web.

Users can access resources via a search function in each subject area web page (to find resources related to that area) or use the ‘Search for resources’ page to undertake free-text or structured searches of the entire database.

To further aid users in navigating the database, the resources are also classified according to eight types, as shown below. Some resources are of more than one type—for example, publications that include case studies, learning materials that include tools, and case studies that are presented as multimedia. 


Resource type



Articles published in peer-reviewed journals (open access only), newsletters, popular press or websites, and presentations given at conferences, meetings and workshops

Case study

Specific examples of initiatives to show users what can be achieved in practice and the lessons learned


Repositories and access points for particular types of organized data

Learning material

Information in a structured format designed specifically for the purposes of teaching and Learning


Step by step procedures or guidelines in how to implement specific approaches or initiatives


Videos, slide shows, audio clips and webinars


Reports of research studies and meetings, brochures, policy briefs and other grey literature


Applications (software and simulation tools) for analysing data



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