Priority Activities of the Second GPA

Priority Activities of the Second GPA

The Second Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Second GPA) builds partnerships and synergies needed to support management of plant conservation and use for strengthening linkages and a ‘continuum’ between conservation, crop improvement and seed delivery systems – the three main components for conservation and use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA).

The Second GPA comprises 18 priority activities organized into four main areas: in situ conservation and management, ex situ conservation, sustainable use, and sustainable institutional and human capacities. The main focus is at the national level for country driven actions on the various priority activities.

In Situ Conservation and Management
The conservation of plant genetic resources in natural ecosystems and their on-farm management provide for the continued evolution and adaptation of these resources to changing environmental forces and are thus essential for the generation of new diversity important for future crop improvements. Farmers and indigenous and local communities play a critical role in the development and conservation of plant genetic diversity in situ, especially on-farm. The Second GPA describes key policies, capacities, research and technology needs as well as coordination strategies required for:

  • Survey and inventory of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture
  • Support of on-farm management and improvement of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

  • Promotion of in situ conservation and management of crop wild relatives and wild food plants

  • Assistance to farmers in disaster situations to restore crop systems

Ex Situ Conservation

A large and important amount of plant genetic resources, vital to world food security, is stored in genebanks as ex situ collections. Securing adequate storage conditions for the genetic materials already collected and providing for their regeneration and safety duplication is essential. Since 1996, at least 240 000 new plant materials have been collected and added to ex situ genebanks. However, much more plant diversity, particularly of crop wild relatives and underutilized species still needs to be secured. The Second GPA addresses sustainable ex situ collections through rationalizing collections, promoting collection and efficient storage, and prioritizing globally unique collections. It promotes the use of in vitro, field genebanks and new technologies for those species that cannot be conserved as seed. It describes policies, strategies, capacities, research needs as well as coordination approaches required for the three priority activities as follows:

  • Support for targeted collection of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture
  • Sustaining and expanding ex situ conservation of germplasm
  • Regenerating and multiplying ex situ accessions

Sustainable Use

The sustainable use of PGRFA encompasses a wide range of activities from crop improvement through plant breeding, adaptation and diversification to seed delivery. Plant breeding acts as bridge between the conservation in genebanks and the seed systems that deliver improved varieties to farmers.

The Second GPA emphasises sustainable use of PGRFA for food security. A number of activities are outlined to increase the use of genetic diversity in the field, reduce crop vulnerability and strengthen linkage between conservation, crop improvement and seed delivery. Activities include increasing the use of varietal mixtures, improving the deployment of genetic diversity, identifying under-utilized species, and developing post-harvest and marketing methods. It describes policies, capacity enhancement and strategies for improving products in farmers’ fields. The priority activities are

  • Expansion of characterization, evaluation and further development of specific subsets of collections to facilitate use
  • Support for plant breeding, genetic enhancement and base-broadening efforts
  • Promotion of diversification of crop production and broadening of crop diversity for sustainable agriculture
  • Promotion of development and commercialization of all varieties, primarily farmers’ varieties/landraces and underutilized species
  • Support of seed production and distribution

Building Sustainable Institutional and Human Capacities

Implementation of the priority activities of the Second GPA and strengthening linkages from plant conservation to sustainable use, require strong institutional and human capacities. Adequate national policies and strategies need to be in place to achieve specific priorities along with access to better information that can support the operational, technical and strategic decisions. Public awareness can raise the importance of PGRFA in coping with climate change and as a provider for ecosystem services. The priority activities of the Second GPA are:

  • Building and strengthening national programmes
  • Promotion and strengthening of networks for PGRFA
  • Construction and strengthening of comprehensive information systems for PGRFA
  • Development and strengthening of systems for monitoring and safeguarding genetic diversity and minimizing genetic erosion of PGRFA
  • Building and strengthening human capacity
  • Promotion and strengthening of public awareness on the importance of PGRFA